Glass recycling may be off the table in Glynn County due to the rising cost of recycling in general.
Ivan Figueroa, Republic Services manager of municipal sales and services, said Liberty Roll-Offs, which transports recyclable trash from Brunswick to Jacksonville, had requested glass be removed from the recycling stream as soon as possible.
Broken glass shards are prone to embedding in paper and cardboard which contaminates it, he said. Once contaminated, the other material can’t be recycled and has to be disposed of along with non-recyclable trash.
Recycling glass has been a losing proposition for a long time, Figueroa said. He said Republic has been paying to recycle glass for years when putting it in a landfill can sometimes have a smaller ecological impact.
There’s also been a larger nationwide trend of recycled products dropping in value over the last few years. New limits on contamination of recyclable material and import bans imposed in China, Figueroa said, is exacerbating the issue.
“When glass gets broken, it tends to cling to things like newspaper and cardboard, rendering that basically as trash, but the other materials’ values droppings has put a focus on ‘how do we make recycling more economical?’” Figueroa said.
Jan. 1, 2019, would be a good time to make the removal official, he said. It would give Republic time to advertise the change to the public and it’s an easy date to remember.
He also asked the commissions to contribute $1 per recycling customer to a marketing campaign to spread awareness of good recycling practices, focusing on the “reduce, reuse and recycle” and “empty, clean, dry,” practices.
A dollar per customer would come out to $6,000 from the city and $13,000 from the county, Figueroa said.
Neither commission liked the suggestion.
County Commissioner Allen Booker asked if Republic had consulted with county or city staff, saying they may be able to come up with ideas to broadcast the change and good recycling practices for less than $19,000.
Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey said the city hasn’t been too pleased with the service it’s gotten from Republic and asked why the city should contribute to this campaign.
“They probably saved $6,000 in service they didn’t deliver in debris pickup in my neck of the woods,” Booker, a city resident, said.
Regular advertising campaigns were a part of Republic’s trash collection contract with the city, said City Manager Jim Drumm. Republic is supposed to run educational ads every six months, he said, but hasn’t run a campaign since the first six-month mark.
County Manager Alan Ours said the county has had a good relationship with Republic, but that glass recycling is included in its contract with the company, making this a contractual issue.
City Commissioner Johnny Cason said city residents were the ones who asked to recycle glass in the first place, and would not be pleased to hear about the change.
Members of both commissions said they wanted Republic to find another way to recycle glass.
County Commission Chairman Bill Brunson said he didn’t think it was something that would be resolved on Tuesday and would require discussion with the county’s staff.
In other business, the commissions heard an update on new directional signage from Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Scott McQuade.
He presented the results of a study that took $20,000 and a year and a half to complete. The study looked at the current signs and proposed new designs.
Signs would be placed along U.S. highways 17 and 341, Interstate 95 and Golden Isles Parkway directing people to various locations, including St. Simons Island, Southeast Georgia Health System’s hospital, downtown Brunswick, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and Jekyll Island, among others.
More signs in Brunswick and on St. Simons and Jekyll Island would direct visitors to locations of interest.
McQuade asked for $176,000 from the county, $149,000 from the city and said the CVB would contribute $200,000. Another $125,000 would be needed from monument signs at multiple locations. That cost would be divided later, McQuade said.
City commissioners were favorable to the plan. Commissioner Julie Martin said the city had been saving up money. County Commissioner Richard Strickland said the county would find the money, but that it would not come out of reserves.
Strickland also asked about maintenance. McQuade said they could pay a fixed fee to the sign manufacturer or handle any repairs themselves.
Brunson said the signs would be on the agenda at the county commission’s Dec. 6 meeting. Harvey said the same for the city’s Dec. 5. meeting.