KAMC Investigates: Recyclables May End Up In City Landfill

If you toss something in a recycling bin, you would expect it to be recycled. But that might not be the case for at least one recyclable item, still being collected by the City of Lubbock.

By Allison Morrison

(LUBBOCK, TX) - If you toss something in a recycling bin, you would expect it to be recycled.

But that might not be the case for at least one recyclable item, still being collected by the City of Lubbock.

"The chipper for the glass broke well over a year ago and has not been replaced," Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said.

In March 2012, the pulverizer, used to chip glass into reusable sand or gravel, broke.

According to the Lubbock's solid waste department, it would cost more than $120,000 to repair the machine.

Mayor Robertson said the city hasn't fixed or replaced the machine because the solid waste department has other priorities, like staffing.

"They truly need four to eight more people on the ground at the landfill and if they're going to ask for money, they need to be asking for more employees before they ask for this pulverizer," he said.

Since the pulverizer broke, many of the city's glass collection bins have remained at various locations throughout Lubbock.

The mayor said the glass in those bins is still being picked up by the city's solid waste trucks.

But if the machine used to recycle the glass is broken, what's happening to all of the glass being collected?

According to Penny Morin with the solid waste department, some of the glass is being stored in two roll-away dumpsters at the city's Southside Recycling Drop-off Center.

Mayor Robertson said the rest is likely in the trash.

"I'm going to assume that at some point, they (solid waste) had to reach a logistics decision, how long do we continue to stockpile this glass, if we don't know if we're going to have a chipper. I would assume that some of that glass that's being collected now, is just being deposited in the landfill," Robertson said. "While it is misleading, because I am going to assume that anybody that puts glass in that container believes it's going to be recycled, I don't think there's been any evil intent."

Lubbock resident Billy Gilbreath said he'd be upset if the materials he's taking the time to rinse, sort and drop off to be recycled, are simply taken to the trash.

"I would be very unhappy," Gilbreath said. "It's just part of our environmental concerns that we should have."

Robertson said he sympathizes with folks like Gilbreath.

The mayor also offered some advice.

"I will tell them that if you're doing it currently with glass, I wouldn't do it anymore. If they're just ending up in the landfill, then quite frankly, they're wasting their time and effort," he said.

Morin said the city is looking for a solution to begin recycling glass again.

She said she is awaiting a quote from a commercial venture that would purchase the glass from the city and recycle it themselves.
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