Friday, November 30, 2018

Recycling Glass a Tenuous Situation

It might be hard to believe, but once upon a time, glass was the king of recycling and one of the more desirable commodities. After all, it can be recycled infinite times without loss of quality, and everybody uses glass bottles and jars.

But today, the scenario has switched, and glass lives at the bottom of the recycling food chain. Many MRFs (materials recycling facilities) have stopped taking glass or are considering it. Why the shift? For starters, while there is an ample supply of recycled glass and processors that can use it in Pennsylvania, they say there’s not a good infrastructure for transporting the material between the two. The basic material used in making glass – sand – is readily available, so it doesn’t take much to stack it in favor of using virgin material. On top of that, using recycled glass saves about 20 percent of the energy of using virgin material; while this is enough to justify recycling, it doesn’t compare to other recycled materials such as aluminum cans, which saves 95 percent of the energy of using virgin.

But perhaps the biggest reason for the downfall of glass is the emergence of single stream recycling systems. Everybody loves their convenience because you can throw everything into a single container, including glass. But glass doesn’t actually work well with single stream. If you try to move it on conveyors for processing and separation from other materials, it shatters, and pieces of glass become dangerous projectiles. Single stream processors sort the glass from the recycling stream as early as possible and do what they can to get rid of it. It’s usually a hodge-podge of many materials mixed in with shards of glass.

The local situation with glass came into view recently when Lycoming County Resource Management Service (LCRMS), who picks up loads of recyclables from our drop-offs and processes them at their facility in Montgomery, called us in for a meeting. It seems their vendor charges them for disposing of the glass from single stream and recently raised their price. On the other hand, they pay for glass that comes from source-separated drop-offs like ours, but they’ve lowered their price. In response, LCRMS considered dropping glass from their program, meaning we would have to stop taking glass at our drop-offs. But they stopped short of that and decided to increase the rates they charge singles stream haulers. They pointed out that the source-separated glass they get from drop-offs like ours goes to a plant in Pennsylvania and gets turned back into bottles - this works largely because we sort it by color.

LCRMS also pointed out that they’re seeing more contamination in source-separated glass. With the glass situation as tenuous as it is, they encourage residents to take some measures, which we second. For starters, only put glass bottles and jars in drop-off containers. NO ceramic cups, plates, drinking glasses, mirrors, window glass, ovenware (like Pyrex) or light bulbs, as these have different material characteristics from bottles and jars and aren’t compatible in recycling. Also, NO plastic bags, cardboard, or trash should go in with your glass. And they encourage single stream users to separate their glass out and take it to a source-separated drop-off.

Surveys show that some 92 percent of people want to keep glass in the recycling mix, so processors like us and LCRMS strive to keep it viable. With your help in sorting at our drop-offs or with single stream, we can continue to keep recycling it into the future. Thanks for your efforts.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority
570-374-6889, x-115

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Recycling Paint

What to Do With Paint

Most of us go through it. In our garage or basement, we collect cans of paint and other finishes of various types, conditions, and amounts thinking we might need them. We put off dealing with the growing pile until a day of reckoning comes and we either have to move and clean the house for sale or we run out of space. How do we dispose of all those cans of paint?

This is one of the most frequent questions we get. The first option we encourage people to pursue is donating the paint to a worthy cause. Maybe your local school, church, theater, or scout troop could use it for various projects. You can try Habitat for Humanity.

The type of paint you have makes a big difference in what you can do with it, as latex (water-based) varieties are much easier to dispose of than oil-based. With latex, if you have a small amount in a can, you can get it dry and hardened by leaving it exposed with the lid off or by putting clay-based cat litter in it to soak it up. Then you can dispose of the can in the trash or recycle it at a scrap metal facility if there’s not much left in it.

For oil-based paints, about the only option is to take it to a facility licensed to dispose of it. It won’t get recycled in the usual sense; it will probably get burned as fuel. Unfortunately, there are no such facilities in Snyder County, but a handful of them are scattered around the state, both private and municipal. A quick search brought up these possibilities an hour or two away:

Center County Recycling & Refuse Authority, 814-238-7005
Bower Disposal Company (Williamsport),
Monroe County Municipal Waste Management Authority, 570-643-6100
Hazardous Waste Experts, 888-681-8923
Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority HHW Facility, 717-397-9968

Another option for paints is to take them to a special collection event for household hazardous wastes. We held one in June at the Monroe Township shed, and we have another one scheduled for October 26-27 in Beavertown at the fire department and carnival grounds. Municipalities typically hold these events, and they bring in outside contractors to collect household chemicals, including paint, usually charging a fee. We’re using a company called ECS&R, and they charge $1.45 per pound for chemicals. You may want to keep this mind and do a quick estimate based on what you have so you’re not shocked by the price. At the June event, we had many people bring latex paint in. If you follow the procedures above, you can dispose of it yourself and save the cost.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Numbers Please, Part 2

In May, we presented numbers for the materials recycled in Snyder County in 2017, first for the entire county and then broken down by municipality. But there’s more. Here, we give you figures for our recycling drop-offs and individual businesses.

2017 Numbers for our Recycling Drop-Offs (tons):
Penn Township – 263
Freeburg Borough – 167
Selinsgrove Borough – 102
Franklin Township – 82
Monroe Township – 59
Spring Township – 55

2017 Numbers for Businesses (tons):
Conestoga Wood Specialties – 12,228
Bingaman & Son Lumber – 12,013
Shaffer Landscapes – 4460
National Beef – 1190
Cherry Hill Hardwoods – 1004
Walmart – 500
Lozier Corp. – 412
Weis Markets – 317
Target – 251
Giant Foods – 209
Lowes – 169
Aldi - 134
Dollar General – 104
Wood-Mode – 89
Midd-West School District – 78
Kohls – 72
Iron Mountain – 68
Ollies – 51 tons
U.S. Postal Service - 42
Best Buy – 33
Beavertown Block – 27
Staples – 26
Northway Industries – 23
Auto Zone – 6
Irvin’s Country Tinware – 5
Verizon – 3
Community Action Agency - 3

The numbers for wood-related businesses such as Conestoga, Bingaman, and Cherry Hill come mainly from wood waste, and those for Shaffer Landscapes come mostly from yard waste. These generate inherently higher numbers than other recyclable materials. If you discount that, National Beef comes out on top. Like the nearby big-box stores along the strip, National Beef recycles mostly corrugated cardboard boxes. Cherry Hill and Weis Markets showed the biggest improvement in their tonnages last year.

You may wonder how we get our numbers. For the drop-offs, we get them from Lycoming County Resource Management Service, as they pull the materials for us. For the larger businesses, PROP (Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania) gathers them from regional and national offices and disseminates them to all the recycling coordinators in the state. Haulers give us their numbers for residential and commercial materials as well. And many of the businesses report their numbers to us themselves; they’re actually required to by law, but there’s no enforcement of that, so we appreciate their efforts.

We congratulate the municipalities for making our drop-offs a success and the businesses for their recycling efforts.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Numbers Please

Once again, we have collected numbers from businesses, organizations, and haulers so we can calculate how many tons of materials Snyder County recycled the previous year, as required by Act 101. In turn, DEP uses our figures to calculate recycling tonnages for the state. This process allows us to monitor our progress and serves as a basis for grant money we receive.

Below is a chart of the numbers for 2017 for the entire county, along with two previous years for comparison. Metals include aluminum and bimetal cans, while organics includes leaves, wood waste, and yard waste as well as food waste. All numbers are in tons.

Countywide Recycling Numbers

Single stream
928 tons

The numbers indicate we’re holding steady with our recycling efforts, but there’s room for plenty of improvement. Single-stream recycling is up, indicating more residents are subscribing to the service through haulers. Tonnages for glass, metals, and plastics are down slightly, probably because of the increase in single-stream. Corrugated cardboard is up, probably because of all the online shopping we do and the boxes that generates; credit Amazon for most of that. Selinsgrove Borough wins the prize for the most residential recycling, while Monroe Township is tops in commercial recycling if you discount organics. This makes sense because Monroe includes the Route 11/15 strip and most of the big-box businesses there.

Materials Recycled by Municipality in 2017 (tons)

Beavertown Borough
Franklin Township
Freeburg Borough
McClure Borough
Middleburg Borough
Middlecreek Township
Monroe Township
Penn Township
Perry Township
Selinsgrove Borough
Shamokin Dam Borough
Spring Township
West Perry Township


Thanks again to all county residents, organizations, municipalities, and businesses that recycled in 2017 and those who reported your numbers to us. By measuring our recycling tonnages, we can continue to make progress in recycling and sustaining our planet.

Our software generates so many numbers we can’t get them all in one article. So stay tuned for more.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New Format for Recycling Events

Most of you know that our annual recycling events are quite popular, as many of you have old, broken, and obsolete electronic devices to get rid of in addition to refrigeration devices and scrap metal. Once again, we have two events planned for this year, the first one June 1-2 at the Monroe Township shed and the second one October 26-27 at Beavertown Rescue Hose Company. For both events, the hours run 3-7 pm Friday and 9 am-1 pm Saturday

But while the locations are the same as in the past, we’re staging these under a different format. For starters, we’re collecting household hazardous wastes. This includes those chemicals you have stored around the house and have been meaning to dispose of for years, including paint, insecticides, automotive fluids, and cleaners. We used to hold such a collection day separately every five years or so. Now we’re combining it with electronics, refrigeration devices, scrap metal, clothing, and books.

We’ve arranged for ECS&R, a private contractor, to collect the hazardous wastes and electronic devices, while our usual partner HandUp Foundation of Milton will collect refrigeration devices, scrap metal, books, and clothes. ECS&R does it differently than we’ve done it in the past. For one thing, you must have an appointment to drop off hazardous chemicals or electronics. You can arrange this by calling 866-815-0016 or visiting (click on “homeowner recycling”). Having an appointment will reduce your waiting time and allow traffic to flow smoother.

ECS&R charges for electronics and household chemicals by the pound. They charge $1.45 per pound for chemicals and .60 a pound for CRT electronics and .40 a pound for non-CRT electronics. One tip for electronics: For larger, older devices such as TV consoles with wooden cabinets, strip the electronics out of them so you’re not paying for the wood and plastic. All financial transactions are between the resident and ECS&R. We’ll be taking donations to cover miscellaneous expenses we incur.

Hope to see you at an event or two.

Notice: The authority is still looking for a volunteer to fill an open position on its board. Join a good cause in advancing recycling in Snyder County. Contact Tom Gibson at or 570-374-6889, ext. 115.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115