Glass — To Recycle or Not To Recycle? Waste Management Customers Want to Know

Glass — To Recycle or Not To Recycle? Waste Management Customers Want to Know

  • Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series on the value of recycling, written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland.

Within the past month or so, many Waste Management customers in unincorporated potions of Kane County received an email from Waste Management that asked them to start putting their glass into the trash instead of the recycling.

After that email went out, I received quite a few calls from concerned residents who wanted to know where they could take their glass bottles and jars to be recycled. Some wanted to switch their service to a hauler that would recycle glass. It goes to show that we have really engendered a culture of recycling and conscious resource conservation!

zippeCulletRecyclingThe reasoning behind Waste Management’s rather unpopular message was that currently the markets for glass cullet (the glass mix that comes out of MRFs and is sold back into the market as a feed stock for glass remanufacturing) are very low, and it is cutting into waste haulers’ profits nationally.

However, here in the Illinois market, we actually have reasonably strong local glass markets  — particularly in the fiberglass industry and for re-manufacturing new bottles.

Following the email blast, Illinois county recycling coordinators and other concerned individuals challenged Waste Management’s new “Recycle Right” guideline. Shortly thereafter, Waste Management issued a retraction email stating that they “will continue to provide glass recycling and process it as part of your recycling service if you place it in your recycling cart.”

Perplexingly, in the same correspondence, Waste Management wrote, “It is your choice if you would like to place the glass in your recycling or waste container.” Now, why would they want it in the trash? Perhaps it is because Waste Management, like some of the larger haulers, owns its own landfills. So they earn revenue from each ton of material tipped in their landfills. And glass is heavy.

But if you really want to Recycle Right, my advice is to recycle the materials that can be easily recycled and re-manufactured in order to conserve resources, regardless of fluctuating markets.

The conclusive message from the Kane County Recycles office is: Keep recycling glass.

Got questions? Contact Kane County Recycles at 630-208-3841 or

Coming Next

  • Value of Recycling – Part 3: How Each Person DOES Make a Difference

Read More

About Kane County Recycles

Kane County Recycles logoThe Kane County Recycles office manages recycling programs for electronics, books, hazardous materials, and other hard-to-recycle materials, and promotes best practices for household recycling, commercial business recycling, and composting. This office oversees recycling-related information and community outreach initiatives, oversees the annual licensing of Waste and Recycling Haulers, provides backyard compost bins, and implements the Kane County Solid Waste Plan. The office oversees the Recycling and Hauler Licensing Ordinance which requires commercial businesses and multi-family residences to recycle, and provides the provisions for hauler licensing and reporting.

For all you ever needed to know about recycling in Kane County see the Kane County Recycles webpage and also sign up here to receive an electronic copy of the new Green Guide each spring.