Two Milton High School students led the efforts in bringing free glass recycling to Bell Memorial Park in Milton.
High schoolers Ella Katekovich and Jeslyn Guo are members of Milton High School’s Environmental Awareness group known as the Clean and Green Club approached city council member Peyton Jamison about setting up a glass recycling container in Milton. The 17-year-olds also contacted companies that collected and recycled glass, trying to identify viable options for Milton.
“Around a year ago, we discovered that Milton did not offer such an important practice for environmental betterment — recycling — for such an abundantly used material — glass,” Guo said. “We immediately started our research and knew that we wanted to make a change. Ella and I believed that a glass recycling initiative would not only provide residents with a glass recycling outlet, but also improve the overall environment here in Milton.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it takes around 1 million years for a glass bottle break down at a landfill. The EPA also states the energy saved from recycling a single glass bottle is enough to operate a 100-watt lightbulb for four hours.
“Recycling glass not only gives unused glass a second life, using crushed, used glass to make new glass requires 30 percent less energy than starting from scratch,” Milton Communications Director Greg Botelho said.
Glass can be deposited anytime from sunrise to about 10:30 p.m. in a large metal container in the back corner gravel parking lot on the far southeast of the city property at 15245 Bell Park Drive.
And it’s easy. There’s no need to peel off labels, nor to deep clean each bottle or jar. Tops should be taken off, but the glass can be recycled even if you forget. The city asks that residents do not drop off ceramics, light bulbs or mirrors.
“Recycling glass is so easy and allows for so many positive impacts,” Katekovich said. “By every member of the community doing their part in recycling their glass, we can better our environment as a whole!”
This option addresses a need that arose in 2017, when certified waste haulers in Milton stopped accepting glass curbside. People could at least drop off their glass at the Roswell Recycling Center — until March 2020. That’s when Roswell officials prohibited those from outside Roswell, including Milton, from using their center. The nearest option to recycle glass, then, was the Keep North Fulton Beautiful facility in Sandy Springs.
“Milton residents have stressed time and again their interest in recycling glass,” City Conservation Project Manager Teresa Stickels said. “This is a solution that’s convenient for them and beneficial to our environment.”
Those efforts led to Strategic Materials. With nearly 50 glass recycling plants around North America, the company bills itself as “the premier glass recycler on the continent.” With recycled glass in high demand and being imported into Georgia because of limited supply, Strategic Materials offered to place a large recycling bin in Milton at no cost to the city. Strategic Materials will remove the container when it fills up, while leaving a replacement one so there’s no gap in service.
The glass will be recycled at the company’s College Park facility. Then it will have its second life elsewhere in Georgia at places like Anchor Glass to transform into new glass containers as well as Owens Corning, Johns Manville and CertainTeed for fiberglass insulation. Recycling glass for such purposes saves energy and means lower overall carbon dioxide emissions.
Someday, Milton residents may have the opportunity to recycle even more glass in more places. At a May city council meeting, Stickels explained that the city will start with one glass recycling bin but could add another one elsewhere in Milton.
“We would love to bring another container for our city to use,” Katekovich said. “If our current bin yields successful participation in our community, which we are hopeful it will, we would definitely work to bring another container.”
Guo and Katekovich plan on hosting monthly glass recycling drives to encourage community participation and spread awareness on the benefits of recycling glass. To learn more about sustainability effort in Milton, go to www.cityofmiltonga.us/residents/sustainability.