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Legislators want study of glass recycling

Two state legislators want the state DEC to help find alternative uses for recycled glass.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, D-East Setauket, and Sen. James Sanders, D-South Ozone Park, have introduced A.6033 and S.4094 directing the state DEC to study alternative municipal uses for recycled glass and to submit a report containing its findings along with legislative proposals as it deems necessary to implement its recommendations.

“New York has made recycling a top priority. These recycling efforts have been extremely successful however, buyer of recycled materials have recently reduced their intake of recycled glass. Unfortunately, without a buyer for these recycled materials, not only is recycling glass not economically feasible for many municipalities, it greatly contributes to the solid waste problem,” Englebright and Sanders said in their legislative justification. “Localities across the nation are exploring new uses for recycled glass, especially in light of the fact that many overseas buyers have reduced or eliminated their procurement of glass.”

Jamestown is one of those localities. The Board of Public Utilities stopped picking up glass earlier this year in part due to customers putting out much less glass than they had in the past, which meant it was costing more to pick up glass than it used to.

Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a collaboration with the State College of Ceramics at Alfred University to help recycling markets and municipal recycling programs find new ways to produce and recycle glass.

Glass is the heaviest component of the municipal waste stream and costly to process. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is working with key stakeholders, including municipalities, to strategize on how to bolster new markets to build capacity in the state and the northeast region to address these challenges.

As a major focus of this initiative, the New York State College of Ceramics will form the Center for Glass Innovation as a research resource for glass producers in New York state and, ultimately, nationally. The center will create space for basic and applied research, user facilities, and experimental glass tanks for applied, industrial-scale research, with an emphasis on creating higher value end markets for curbside collected glass. This will be the first center of its kind in the United States where glass companies will be able to test small batches of new glass compositions in a pilot production environment.

“The College of Ceramics at Alfred University is playing a critical role in enhancing recycling markets and the overall economic revival of the Southern Tier,” Cuomo said. “This first-ever Center for Glass Innovation builds on our efforts partnering the best academic institutions with industry experts to develop strategies to make New York a cleaner and greener state. The investment will also help to ensure our students have the education and skills they need for new opportunities and jobs in the green economy of the future.”

SUNY’s statutory unit at Alfred University, the NYSCC, will receive nearly $1.7 million for this initiative through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) as part of a three-year agreement.

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