Curbside Recycling No Longer to Accept Glass; City Seeks Residents' Input on Drop-Off Centers

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Curbside Recycling No Longer to Accept Glass; City Seeks Residents' Input on Drop-Off Centers

Posted: 12/12/2016
Starting Jan. 1, 2017, glass will no longer be accepted in the City of Knoxville curbside single-stream recycling program. Instead, residents are encouraged to bring glass to any of the City’s five drop-off recycling centers.

Recycling CenterAs part of the City’s single-stream process, residents drop recyclables into curbside carts for pickup. The materials are unloaded in a large compacting truck, dumped on a recycling facility’s concrete tipping floor and sorted on a conveyor belt – causing the glass to break into small pieces.
That causes two problems:

• The intermingled mix of many different kinds of glass produces a very low-quality glass commodity, for which there’s no market; and 

• The glass slivers and particles contaminate other recyclables, downgrading their quality and market value.

“Many communities across the country have reached the same conclusion – that placing glass in single stream, with other recyclable materials like plastic, paper and aluminum, is not the best way to recycle glass,” said Rachel Butzler, the City’s Solid Waste Manager.

“It’s unfortunate, because curbside pickup is so convenient. But because the glass gets broken and commingled, its value is eroded and it has no market. As a result, much of the glass that’s intended for recycling winds up going to the landfill – which is absolutely the last thing that our enthusiastic residential recyclers want.”

In addition to curbside glass recyclables, the change also affects any single-stream receptacle that is serviced by the City – including those in public parks, downtown and in other public spaces.

However, glass can still be recycled. Glass separated by color at any of the City’s five recycling drop-off centers is much higher quality, so the City’s contractor is better able to find a market for it and divert it from the landfill.

Here’s a link to more information and locations of City of Knoxville, Knox County and University of Tennessee recycling drop-off centers:

The City is gathering input from residents about ways to improve the operation of the drop-off centers – including the possibility of adding new locations to make it easier for residents to recycle glass. To take part in a survey, please click on this link: