Next for Pitkin County recycling: from glass to sand? |

Next for Pitkin County recycling: from glass to sand?

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Plans to grind glass into sand and other upgrades at the Pitkin County landfill won an initial nod from county commissioners this week.

The landfill, formally known as the Solid Waste Center, is planning an on-site relocation of certain operations, construction of a new building ” a materials recovery facility to house recycling efforts, and the purchase of a glass-sorting and pulverizing system that would create a new product out of recyclable glass ” sand.

Chris Hoofnagle, the county’s solid waste manager, outlined the plans for commissioners on Tuesday. Commissioners gave him the go-ahead to seek necessary permits and begin the land-use process for the envisioned upgrades. The changes will require a formal review and approval at a later date.

The new materials recovery building has become a priority after the collapse of a storage shed a year ago that had housed some of the landfill’s recycling program. A new building will save the county money, according to Hoofnagle, starting with about $20,000 in shipping costs for cardboard and paper. Those materials are currently kept outside, where they get wet, adding to the cost of having them hauled elsewhere for processing since shipping costs are based on weight, he said.

Hoofnagle estimates the cost of installing the glass-pulverizing system in the new facility at about $450,000, but by sorting out glass and converting it to sand, the county can save about $100,000 annually in costs to ship it elsewhere.

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Currently, most of the glass the county collects through recycling doesn’t wind up in new glass products, but is used as a cover material at other landfills, Hoofnagle said.

The sand will have value in the county landfill’s “aggregate recovery” program, which produces landscaping products like rock, boulder and soil that are then sold. Among the landfill’s soil products is silty loam. The addition of sand turns it into sandy loam, favored by gardeners and other growers, according to Hoofnagle.

The cost of the new building itself has not yet been determined, he said. Its construction is envisioned in 2010.

In 2009, the landfill’s spending plan includes $400,000 for the second phase of construction of an area where a liquid-waste processing facility is proposed, plus $75,000 on planning and engineering for the facility and $35,000 to obtain the necessary state permits.

Topping the list of liquids that could be processed is septic-tank waste, which can be processed into dried material that can be buried at the landfill. Being able to accept the waste from septic tanks represents a revenue opportunity for the landfill, Hoofnagle said.

All of the proposed projects would be funded from $6 million the landfill has accumulated in reserves.

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