Steamboat Springs — Discarded beer bottles never looked as good as they do now, after Momentum Recycling opened a glass sorting, cleaning and crushing facility in Broomfield.
A Denver spokesman for Waste Management, the largest trash hauler in Northwest Colorado, confirmed Tuesday that his company began a week ago trucking recycled glass containers from its giant materials recycling facility to Momentum. The company has contracted with two different Front Range glass bottle manufacturers that supply the Anheuser Busch bottling plant near Fort Collins and the Miller/Coors plant in Golden.
In a story about Momentum’s new $11 million plant, the Denver Post reported that the two bottle manufacturers, Owens-Illinois in Windsor and Rocky Mountain Bottle Company in Wheat Ridge, combined to make 2 billion bottles a year. And now, Momentum has stepped in with the capacity to process up to 80,000 tons of glass a year, with all but 15 percent of that going to the bottle makers.
“It’s very exciting our glass is being recycled,” Waste Management’s Enrico Dominguez said. “It’s not this pebble in our shoe any more, as it has been. It’s changing everything, and we’re very excited cheering (Momentum) on.”
In Northwest Colorado, Waste Management accepts glass containers in single-stream recycling rollaways and dumpsters along with plastics, aluminum and paper and cardboard. The recyclable materials are baled and trucked to the company’s MRF, leaving a significant “carbon footprint” along the way. Add to that the fact that there was very little economic incentive to truck glass to the Front Range, and recycling glass hasn’t been very appealing.
Yampa Valley Sustainability Council waste diversion director Cameron Hawkins told Steamboat Today her organization looks forward to learning more about Momentum and the options it might open up for more rural areas to divert glass to a reuse facility.
“YVSC definitely recognizes that glass is an issue in our region and throughout the state of Colorado,” Hawkins wrote in an email. “We are thrilled that bottle-to-bottle recycling by Momentum is now in Colorado.”
Steve Johnson, district operations manager with Waste Management here, confirmed that the glass his company’s trash hauler picks up in Steamboat continues to be shipped to the MRF on Franklin Street in Denver.
Nationally, the large majority of recycled glass is trucked from MRFs to landfills, where it is used as a top cover for trash.
Dominguez said using crushed glass as a landfill cover is worthwhile — it reduces the need for his company to haul in gravel and sand to cover the trash, but that use isn’t ideal.
“Glass is very effective for landfills,” he said. “But to a purist, it’s not being recycled.”
Dominguez said Momentum has to reach a high standard in the crushed glass the plant prepares for the bottle factories.
“For them to seal up the contracts with the bottle makers on their end, the glass has to be very, very clean,” he said. “They get all the contaminants out and sort it by color. I’ve heard that if done correctly, (recycled glass) can be back on the shelf filled with liquid within 60 days. And it’s recyclable a million times over. ”