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Board discusses plans for repurposed glass, education efforts

MARQUETTE — Tentative plans for repurposing glass and upcoming outreach and education efforts were detailed at the Wednesday meeting of the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority’s Board of Trustees.

Members of the board will travel to Houghton Friday to meet with Michigan Tech University professors to discuss the use of the glass products that will come from the MCSWMA’s glass processing facility.

The authority’s switch to single-stream recycling will come with the ability to process glass into an aggregate or sand-like material.

“There’s many different uses, aggregate mixing with blacktop, mixing with concrete to take the place of fly ash and they’re certifying that,” MCSWMA Board Chairman Randy Yelle said.

The repurposed glass could be used as a substitute for fly ash, which is used in the production of cement and concrete and often produced at coal plants.

“We’re going to meet with them, we’re going to go through the whole process. And then I’ll be going to the legislators to see if I can get a grant for them to finish their research and give us the actual written document that says: ‘This will replace fly ash, this will replace this, this will do that,'” Yelle said.

The research would help validate the reuse of glass for this purpose and hopefully help to secure grant money from the state, he explained.

“I believe we are going to be able to get grant money to give to Tech to finish out the research on the reprocessing of glass and the reuse of glass,” Yelle said.

The processing and repurposing of glass by the authority would keep more glass from entering the landfill.

“You throw a bunch of glass bottles in the landfill, you’re taking up a lot of space. And extending the life of the landfill is a big deal,” Yelle said.

MCSWMA’s Director of Operations Brad Austin updated the board on the most recent education outreach measures during the meeting.

The state of Michigan has paid for an outreach campaign for Marquette’s recycling program in line with the state’s Know It Before You Throw It campaign, a state-wide educational effort to inform residents on proper recycling habits, Austin explained.

Commercials featuring the campaign’s Recycling Raccoons will be released on local television and radio Friday. The commercials will share recycling tips such as rinsing containers and not recycling plastic bags, which can’t be collected curbside. The Recycling Raccoons will also be seen on three billboard spots throughout the county.

“This is all about getting residents geared up for this new facility, having a better understanding of what we can and can’t put in the bins,” Austin said.

Informational flyers on proper recycling habits will be sent to residents from the authority following the release of the local campaign.

The switch from dual- to single-stream recycling for residents is tentatively scheduled for August, he noted.

A microsite for further recycling education is also in the works.

“We’ve got mcswma.com, but what we’d like to do is get a recycle906.com site that will be more geared toward recycling and materials management. So whether it’s single-stream, whether it’s (household hazardous waste), whether it’s batteries or whatever it might be, we want to give people a place to go and look at it and separate that from some of the solid waste information currently out there,” Austin said.

Austin notified the board that the authority has been awarded a $65,000 grant from the state to hold Community Tire Days.

The grant will cover the cost of processing the tires brought in by residents. The current process involves splitting tires in half to be used by the authority.

“We did a grant for a tire shredder, which we’re going to put online this spring so we’ll be actually shredding tires,” Austin said. “There’s a lot of market development with that in the future. We are able to use it in the roads in the landfill but we’re hoping there are some other markets that open up whether that be draining and septic industry or others.”

During the meeting, the board approved the purchase of a hook truck that “will be operated daily by authority staff once the new facility is online,” board documents state. “The equipment will be used to move roll-off containers in and out of designated areas within the Materials Recovery Facility.”

The complete cost of the unit is $111,566 and funding will come from the board-approved five-year capital plan for fiscal year 2019-20.

The purchase of roll-off containers from the vendor WASTQUIP at a cost of $51,734 was also approved by the board. The containers will be located within the MRF and collect bulky plastics, metals, fine and residual materials. Funding for the purchase will also be allocated from the capital plan.

Ultimately, the hook truck will move the roll-off containers either to the re-run line or to the landfill.

“The goal is for complete commodity capture. That’s the end goal,” Austin said.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.

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