Nothing is set in stone, or glass for that matter, but Boise's Public Works Department, in collaboration with Allied Waste, is crafting the city's first curbside glass recycling program.
Twice a week, Allied Waste currently hauls 17 dumpsters packed with empty beer, wine and liquor bottles to a glistening dumping ground south of Boise. But in a no-good-deed-goes-unpunished effort, the mountain of glass continues to accumulate with nowhere to go (BW, News, "The Glass Ceiling," Oct. 20, 2010). At last visit, the piles filled the equivalent of two football fields and stood approximately 30 feet high.
At a March 10 meeting of the Public Works Commission, Division Chief Paul Woods and Environmental Programs Manager Catherine Chertudi unveiled a proposal to provide not only curbside pickup of glass receptacles but an ultimate destination that provides true recycling.
"Recent polling indicated that up to 61 percent of Boiseans want curbside recycling," said Woods. "But when asked, only about 5 percent would pay up to $15 a month for the courtesy."
And therein lies the biggest challenge for Woods and the city: determining a price point that encourages participation in a glass recycling program.
"Initially, we'd like to see about 3,000 customers participate," Woods said.
Although plans are far from complete, Woods told Public Works commissioners that his staff and Allied Waste were considering a $9.50 per month voluntary fee for glass recycling. A $1-$2 discount for diverting glass away from the city landfill could help lower the cost. Participants would be given a new bin in which to recycle their empties. Allied would haul the glass to a location near the Boise Airport, where it would be crushed by Environmental Abrasives into fiberglass.
"They'll take as much glass as we can give them," said Chertudi. "Environmental Abrasives even said they'll consider taking the glass from the huge glass piles currently south of Boise."
Public Works commissioners were optimistic about the plan and gave Woods, his staff and Allied Waste thumbs up to move forward.
Several important steps lay ahead: a modified agreement between the city and Allied Waste, a new agreement with Environmental Abrasives, an agreement on rates, approval by the Boise City Council, and a formal announcement by Mayor Dave Bieter.
Woods said he hoped to launch the program as early as this summer.
Overriding questions remain: Would Boiseans approve of a curbside recycling program? How much would they be willing to pay monthly for the service?How much would you pay?