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August 2004

County Works to Improve Future for Recycled Glass

For Ken Rieman, it was simple – create a saleable product from his recovered mixed glass, or eliminate it from the county’s recycling program he’d worked so hard to support. Rieman is the director of Wood County’s Solid Waste District. With responsibility for overseeing the county’s municipal landfill, burying hundreds of tons of glass there each year was the last thing he wanted to do.
Wood County’s curbside recycling program serves more than 80,000 residents in northwest Ohio. A mix of 50% clear, and 50% brown, green and blue glass is collected through a blue box curbside recycling program in Bowling Green, the county’s largest population center. In addition to the curbside program, about fifteen collection trailers are placed in surrounding communities throughout the area.

“Recovered glass is a low value product,” said Rieman, “and outside processors were charging us to dispose of it. It’s also heavy to move and there were transportation costs involved as well,” he added.

Like more and more smaller municipalities today, the solution for Ken Rieman and Wood County was an on-site glass pulverizer. “Processing our own recovered glass was really the only option for us that made sense,” said Rieman. “We contacted Andela Products in New York State and they worked with us to engineer a system that was custom matched to our operation. We’re producing our own glass cullet now, sized at either 3/8” minus or 1/8” minus,” he said. The cullet sells for just $5 per ton to residents, contractors or anyone interested in recycled glass for a wide variety of applications.

“We priced the cullet below traditional aggregate products to generate some interest and get markets started here,” said Rieman. We plan to use the recycled glass for a number of construction projects around the county, instead of spending tax dollars on virgin sand and gravel,” he said. “The feasibility for other applications is being studied as we speak,” he noted.

The glass-recycling program in Wood County is much like those in smaller towns across the country. It began back in 1978 when the Jaycees set up a semi-trailer and some 55-gallon drums in the parking lot of a local manufacturing firm. In just over two years, the first 40,000 lb. load of recovered glass left town in that semi. Today, with the help of the pulverizing equipment acquired just a month ago, volumes of recycled glass are expected to average more than 100,000 lbs. per month.

“The city of Bowling Green had originally handled the recycling program,” said Rieman, “but that quickly proved to be a poor fit for their operation. A non-profit organization – known as Bowling Green Recycling – was then created specifically for the purpose of administering the county’s recycling program,” he said.

Bowling Green Recycling is open for business 24/7 but it is manned by just 3 full time employees. An additional part time person rounds out the staff there. Ken Rieman explains, “The entire facility is monitored by cameras coupled to the internet. Our guys can check on things from home through a high-speed internet connection with live images. We trade off the responsibility of monitoring levels of material dropped off during evening or night hours and can run down when necessary to cycle a baler or empty our bulk bins. Our motto is handle it once!” said Rieman. “We do what we must to keep things moving,” he said.

Whether it’s glass, plastic, paper, aluminum cans or metals, Bowling Green Recycling moves more than 7,500,000 lbs. of recycled material per year.


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