WINCHESTER — As of today, Winchester once again offers free glass recycling.
A new $64,372 glass crusher, purchased in January by the city's Public Works Department using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) stimulus funds, was recently installed at City Yards, 301 E. Cork St.
"It took a while to get here, and we had to have a facility to put it in," Winchester Public Works Division Manager Justin Hall said on Friday before conducting a test run of the new glass crusher. "Now it's all coming together."
Winchester had to suspend its glass recycling program in January 2019 when its recycling vendor, Southern Scrap in Frederick County, stopped accepting glass because it was no longer cost effective for the company.
At that time, it appeared the city's only option for resuming glass recycling would be to truck items to a vendor in Fairfax, which would have been expensive and time-consuming.
By October 2019, City Council was expressing interest in buying its own glass-crushing machine for Winchester residents. As officials contemplated ways to pay for it, COVID-19 arrived in March 2020.
One year later, to help Winchester offset unforeseen expenses brought about by the pandemic, federal officials allocated $12,337,682 in ARPA funds to the city. That provided the money needed to buy a glass crusher without passing along the cost to citizens.
Winchester is resuming its glass recycling program two weeks after Frederick County did the same thing. The county, which suspended its glass recycling in November 2016, decided earlier this month to transport glass items to the recycling company in Fairfax at a cost of $600 per load. County residents can deposit glass recyclables in a specially marked container at 146 Landfill Road.
Frederick and Winchester both accept glass of any color for recycling, but city residents will have an easier time preparing items because Winchester's new crusher can filter out things like caps, corks, labels and lemon wedges left inside bottles.
On Friday, Winchester Refuse and Recycling Manager Michael Neese demonstrated how the crusher at City Yards carries glass items up a conveyor belt and into a pulverizing mechanism that produces both finely-ground glass, which can be used as sand, and larger aggregate, which can be used for a variety of things including backfill, landscaping and concrete mixing. All of the crushed glass comes out completely smooth with no jagged edges, meaning it won't cut you if you grab it by the handful, and any labels and caps that were on the bottles are kicked into a separate trashcan.
Neese said the crusher can also be used for artistic purposes. For example, green, white, blue and brown bottles could be ground up together and the colorful aggregate used to make things like dreamcatchers and resin art.
For now, all of the crushed glass will be used by the city. In the future, Hall said officials hope to allow citizens to use the crushing machine for their own at-home projects.
There is no charge for city residents who want to recycle glass. Items should not be taken to City Yards, but instead to one of five collection sites that are now open:
"These locations were picked throughout the city as a convenience to the citizens," Hall said. "We already have city staff there to keep an eye on things and attendants that visit the sites every evening to see if they [the collection containers] need to be emptied."
Neese said it's unlikely the city will start picking up glass items at people's homes in the foreseeable future. Glass cannot be mixed with anything else, which means Winchester would have to buy a new truck in order to offer an at-home service.
"More crews, more trucks, more time," said Winchester Communications Director Amy Simmons.
The specially marked receptacles at the five drop-off sites have 8-inch slots that only accept one item at a time. The glass doesn't have to be cleaned, but Neese said it eases the crushing process if the machine doesn't have to filter out things like paper labels.
Items like light bulbs, porcelain dishes and ceramics cannot be recycled. Also, it is important that no trash, cardboard or other non-glass items be put into the collection bins.
To learn more about Winchester's recycling programs for glass, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and metal cans, visit winchesterva.gov/public-works/recycling.
— Contact Brian Brehm at [email protected]
There is no charge for city residents who want to recycle glass. Items should not be to one of five collection sites that are now open:
This is good news. I hope Frederick County will follow the city's example and again allow glass to be recycled.
"...Winchester is resuming its glass recycling program two weeks after Frederick County did the same thing. The county, which suspended its glass recycling in November 2016, decided earlier this month to transport glass items to the recycling company in Fairfax at a cost of $600 per load. County residents can deposit glass recyclables in a specially marked container at 146 Landfill Road..."
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