By Cameron Skinner, Sustainable Newton Board Member
With the City of Covington announcing the return of glass recycling for city residents, we asked board member Cameron Skinner to explain why glass recycling is different from other materials usually picked up curbside and how Sustainable Newton worked to make this drop-off service possible. With several certifications and a career working in the field of corporate environmental sustainability, Cameron is uniquely qualified to explain the market dynamics of recycling. We are blessed to have him living in Covington and serving on our board.
Recycling & the Georgia Economy
Recycling everyday consumable materials such as cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass isn’t only great for the environment. It also helps bolster the economy by creating well-paying jobs throughout the entire resource conservation value chain. In fact, companies in Georgia are trailblazing the future of recycling in the US with the help of The Center of Innovation Energy Technology, which is a division of the state government that provides industry expertise and connections to all types of Georgia businesses who are looking to strengthen the state’s sustainability ecosystem. According to the Georgia Center of Innovation’s website focused on recycling and sustainability:
Glass Recycling & Sustainable Newton
Because we understood the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and observed a gap in local glass collection opportunities, Sustainable Newton decided to partner with the The Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business at Georgia Tech in the fall of 2021 to investigate and define a circular economy for recyclable waste, particularly glass, in Newton County. The result was a robust proposal that outlined the current state of glass recycling in Newton County and an analysis of potential stakeholder partners and solid waste infrastructure in the metro Atlanta area. The final recommendation from Georgia Tech and Sustainable Newton was for the City of Covington to partner with the Newton County Solid Waste Management Authority to expand drop-off opportunities that would supplement the existing glass recycling infrastructure in the county.
If that recommendation sounds familiar, it may be because you have received word of the City of Covington’s pending launch of the glass and cardboard recycling center. A post made to the City’s social media accounts on January 24, 2024 revealed details surrounding the expected reopening of the transfer station located at 5120 Turner Street. The station will accept broken down cardboard and glass and will be open for residential drop-off Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Watch the News page on the city's website for more details.
What Happens to My Glass?
When you drop your glass into the bin, you may wonder where it goes and what happens to it. It's really all quite fascinating, as we learned from the work our Georgia Tech team did for us. The glass from the new drop-off center in Covington will be picked up by the Newton County Solid Waste Management Authority and taken, with the recyclable glass deposited at the county's "convenience centers" to Strategic Materials, Inc. (SMI) in College Park. The video below shows what they do with it. The glass you drop off in Covington may very will end up in a new glass bottle like the ones Verescence makes in their Covington factory using recycled glass from SMI..
Glass bottles from Covington going to College Park and returning to places like Covington as ready-to-use pellets. That's why it's called a Circular Economy.