Does anyone know if glass actually gets RECYCLED in Albuquerque? I keep hearing a rumor that any glass dropped off at the recycling centers just goes straight into the landfill. Anyone know more? I am hoping it's just idle chatter.

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If you read your EPA link a bit more, you'll see that the project is not yet in place. They are laying the groundwork this year but they won't be fully up and running until 2013.
The folks at Solid Waste are supposed to get back to me on this. I will post their response when I get it.
I'd be very interested to hear.  In the meantime I'm no longer going to go to the rather great bother of collecting and transporting my glass to a collection point.  If the city is not recycling it, they should shut down the collection points.

I'll answer my own post.  Made an inquiry and heard back in short order from Bobby Sisneros of the Solid Waste Department and he maintains that it is currently being recycled.  Here's his answer to my question:


"Glass is being recycled. It gets ground up and used in asphalt, or tumbled and used for landscaping."

I would like to answer this question from first hand experience.  I actually work for the comapny that is located at the Cerro Colorado Landfill on the West Mesa in ABQ, Growstone. I assure you, we are open for business and we want recycled glass!  First some facts:

  • Glass takes 4,000 years to decompose, and even longer in a landfill.
  • The numbers vary, but it is commonly accepted that only about 25% to 35% of the glass produced in the USA is recovered for recycling.
  • Glass is one of the very few products that can be completely recycled again and again

The issue with recycled glass is, to make another glass jar or bottle, the recycled glass must first be sorted by color.  It takes amber glass to make amber, clear to make clear, etc. - this is where the cost to municipalities comes in – it is very expensive to sort the glass by color and broken glass reaches a point where it is too small to sort.  Growstone, a New Mexico born and headquartered company, has developed a patented way to make use of the recycled glass from the ABQ Cerro Colorado Landfill, and we started taking glass out of the waste stream earlier this year.  The plant is now up and running, we are selling finished product nationally, although we are still in our commissioning stage and not 100% up to capacity. 


Growstone takes this “mixed cullet” of multi-colored glass to make an entirely new product to grow plants in.  The manufacturing process uses no water, and plans are taking shape to harvest the methane gas from the landfill to power the kiln used to produce the product, which is now fired from natural gas.  Growstone produces two different size products – one that is commonly mixed into soil for aeration, and one size that you actually grow in using a hydroponic system.  The first Growstone plant, a public-private partnership, is located in Albuquerque because of the forward thinking of the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque’s dedication to recycling.


It is estimated that we will use all the recycled glass that the City of Albuquerque can produce and collect.  Then hopefully on to more plants in other cities across the country.  So drink up!  That beer bottle from the local brewery in ABQ you recycle may some day be in a greenhouse growing tomatoes (sorry this post is so long...but hard to explain in a few words!)

Thanks for the information - it's exciting to hear that something innovative is being done with something I feared was just heading to the landfill.
This is great to know! Thanks for the information! I never did hear back on my 311 call.
So...former city councillor Michael Cadigan is spreading misinformation about glass recycling in Albq.  Nice.  Wonder how many people he has discouraged from being responsible and recycling their glass because he has old information?

I would not rush to judge the former councillor. The city said that glass is being recycled. The milion dollar question is "how much?" My guess is that while some of the glass is being repurposed (not exactly the same as recycled) the vast majority sits in makeshift corrals bordered by old shipping containers. Patrick's press release regarding Growstone is elegantly couched. How many tons of glass have they processed and what percentage of the city's annual collected total does that represent?

Dude said nothing is being recycled.  That's demonstrably false.

I heard from the Solid Waste Dept. this morning. They confirmed that Growstone has purchased all the recycled glass at the landfill and the rights to the incoming glass, and they began processing it earlier this year (2011).

Growstone is hoping to increase production to the point where they are recycling all the glass as it comes in, but they're not there yet--they're still working on the backlog. The glass is at the landfill facility but is not in the landfill -- maybe that difference is the source of some of the misinformation out there.

So yes, glass gets recycled in Albuquerque. Phew.


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