Recently, the Town of Dennis and most of the Cape Cod communities transferred its recycled glass to a business that either manufactured beer bottles from the recycled glass or sold it to developing countries for processing. However, these end markets have collapsed due to shrinking profits forcing most glass recyclers out of business. In addition, China has significantly decreased the amount of recyclables it will accept from the United States. Cape Cod is struggling to find sustainable solutions for glass recycling. Glass is heavy, expensive to transport, and challenging to safely process for reuse.
The Town of Dennis is exploring a sustainable regional solution. In May, Dennis Department of Public Works (DPW) and Solid Waste & Recycling Committee (SWRC) began talks with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) on hosting a Regional Glass Depot, open to all Cape and Islands. Participating municipalities would bring their waste glass to Dennis, where it would be recycled into Processed Glass Aggregate (PGA) by a vendor contracted by the non-profit Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA). Participating municipalities would pay a "tipping fee" to NRRA for processing. NRRA would bring their glass processing vendor to the Dennis Regional Glass Depot located at the Dennis Transfer Station once or twice a year. The recycling loop would be closed when the participating municipalities receive back the resulting PGA to use in projects such as an aggregate for sub-base in road, sidewalk, parking lot and drainage construction in accordance with MassDEP Beneficial Use Determination Policy BWP-94-011.
The project quickly gained momentum, led by the DPW and SWRC with assistance from Worcester Polytechnic Institute senior Emma Brimdyr, a Dennis native with interests in sustainability and circular economics. Within weeks of its origin, the project gained support and feedback from NRRA executive director Mike Durfor, Barnstable County municipal assistant coordinator Kari Parcell and MA DEP Branch Chief Brooke Nash. Seven Cape Cod municipalities met to discuss the Dennis Regional Glass Depot and their willingness to participate.
At a recent Dennis Board of Selectmen meeting the Selectmen approved proposals from the SWRC and DPW to move forward with developing a sustainable glass recycling initiative. The DPW applied for a MA DEP grant in the amount of $150,000 to pay for capital infrastructure necessary to construct the Regional Glass Depot. (See Related Content link below for Rep. Tim Whelan's announcement of funding for the Regional Glass Recyling project.)