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Issue 2

Glass– it doesn’t have to be a pane


Athens-Clarke County continues recycling glass bottles and jars, even as glass has been dropped from many local recycling collection programs. When recycling markets are paying less money for recovered material, haulers, processors and local governments try to cut out items that are deemed unattractive, for any number of reasons. And fairly or not, they often cut glass.

Glass bottles and jars delivered to the Athens Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) are fed into the processing equipment along with plastic and metal containers, paper and cardboard. But after that, glass is handled quite differently. We want most items kept intact – flatten the cardboard, but don’t rip it up, don’t crush bottles, don’t shred paper, etc. 

Well, the first thing that happens to glass bottles is they go through The Crusher! Why? Getting recyclables to market efficiently means getting more on the truck, and because glass cannot be baled (compressed into a brick weighing 900-2,000 pounds), it has to get small. Keep in mind – the glass bottles don’t get cleaned and refilled with product. Like aluminum and steel cans, they get melted and reformed into new products – and not always a food or beverage container. 

Glass processed at the ACC MRF is loaded into heavy-duty dump trucks and goes to Strategic Materials. Their facility in East Point, GA accepts glass from all over the Southeast. There, the glass pieces, known as cullet, are further cleaned, sorted by color, and shipped to end-users including bottle manufacturers and fiberglass insulation manufacturers. CertainTeed Fiberglass, a local Athens manufacturer, receives glass from Strategic. 

Glass color doesn’t matter. It’s usually brown or clear, but we also take green and even blue glass.

Steps to improve glass collection in mixed recycling: 

  1. Glass bottles and jars only
  2. Container should be clean and empty
  3. Remove lid/cork
  4. Labels can stay on

This following material is accepted at CHaRM, and shipped to Fisher Glass in Charleston, SC:

  • Laboratory glass, Pyrex, cooking glass, container glass, bottles and jars (Labels can stay on; lids and corks should be removed) and beverage glassware can be commingled, broken or intact. 
  • Mirror glass must be kept separate. 
  • Microwave plates must be kept separate.

The following material is accepted at CHaRM, and shipped to Shark Solutions in Lavonia, GA: 

  • Automotive glass, windshields and window pane glass can be commingled, broken or intact. Light metal framing is acceptable; plastic framing or heavier gauge metal framing must be removed. 
  • Glass doors, including shower doors. Metal framing should be removed. 

Joe Dunlop is the ACC Waste Reduction Administrator. He can be reached at

Are you planning to move soon?

DON’T DUMP & RUN!Move-out Decision Guide Opens in new window

Athens-Clarke County offers many opportunities to keep your unwanted stuff out of the landfill. Start planning now to sell, donate, or recycle, your unwanted or leftover items before it’s too late.

Things you should think about:

  • Furniture
  • School supplies
  • Unopened food or drink
  • leftover medicine/pills, etc.
  • Household appliances
  • Household Hazardous Waste

Visit our website for more tips and great sustainable resources before sending your stuff to the landfill

Teacher Reuse Store Updates

Teacher Reuse Store will now be open every other Wednesday (2 - 6:30 pm) to certain community groups. No appointment or registration required, but please do bring some form of identification that you are from one of these groups.

The following groups are eligible (ID required):

Artists, Nonprofits, Students, Religious Organizations, Daycare facilities, Camps & afterschool programs, Hospitals, Teachers from any county.

Oh, and a reminder: everything is totally FREE.

You can email with questions or visit for future dates.

Reuse Store Open House
TRS Donations
CHaRM Readers Choice ad 3.0

Joe's No's

Joe nos

  1. Hyper-focus on oddball items. It’s fascinating and fun to talk about, but don’t lose sight of the common items that really drive landfill diversion. There is still way too much cardboard going to the landfill, and that is super-easy to reuse, then recycle. With few exceptions, everything accepted in mixed recycling is paper, or a container.   
  2. Rubber. Pretty much the only rubber anything that can be recycled anywhere is a tire and only at CHaRM or the landfill . Most of that gets burned for fuel, and I’m not a fan of calling that recycling. But – rubber garden hoses, tubing, balls, toys – to the landfill please!
  3. Wishful recycling. When in doubt, throw it out. I’d much rather folks try to find out first, but the staff at the processing facility uses this rule, 50 times per minute (the average number of picks on the sort lines.)
  4. Bagging recyclable items. Worse yet, three water bottles and a cat food can stuffed into a plastic bag, tied in a knot, and placed with four more just like it, in a big trash bag! Argghhh! Please – keep it loose. We are happy to send you one of our popular reusable green bags to make it easier to get your recyclable stuff to your outside recycling container or one of our drop-off sites.
  5. Scrap metal. The only metal we want is a can, or aluminum foil/tray. Metal cookware, tools, automotive parts – these are all recyclable, but not through our sensitive sorting equipment please. We see some pretty scary stuff coming up the conveyor belt – saw blades, car batteries and most recently, a bayonet! 
  6. Tiny things that fall through the cracks should not be included. Use the Post-it note rule, much smaller than that and these items are not as likely to be recovered. Stick the note to a larger piece of paper, put the cap back on the bottle, place the metal lid back in the can – these steps can improve the chances that your tiny item will make it to market. 

Joe Dunlop is the ACC Waste Reduction Administrator. He can be reached at

Flagpole ICAW 2021

MeRFi's Corner

Merfi's Corner

Dear MeRFi,
My Tom's of Maine  toothpaste tube says it's now recyclable with #2 plastics- is this accurate?

~Mystified Melissa

Dear Mystified Melissa,

Short answer is "not yet". It is hard to designate a material as recyclable by brand. The Athens recycling center sorts plastic by hand and they do not have time to check for the brand name or the "blue flag" as stated on Tom's of Maine's website. If other toothpaste companies can jump on board and ALL toothpaste tubes are made recyclable then we can talk. We are working with an institution on recycling small #2 and #5 plastics that wouldn't make it through the recycling center to get them recycled at CHaRM. Once we work out those kinks and ensure it can get recycled, this program could open up to other plastic like Tom's toothpaste.

Just the Food...Not the Waste

Not the wasteWith COVID still lurking and not going away anytime soon, I suspect most of you are getting a lot more take-out.  With take-out comes a large amount of waste such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, plastic utensils and sauce packets. Convenience is great, but it doesn’t have to be automatic. What can you do to reduce that waste, much of it packaging that is not necessary?

  • When you place your order tell them you want “just the food”. That means no plasticware, straws, napkins or sauces. You may need to clarify what you mean and remind them when you pick up your order. If you order online there is often a notes section where you can request it. If we all start saying it, maybe they will catch on.
  • Keep a set of reusable utensils, straws and napkins in your car, purse, or desk if you aren’t headed home to eat. If you’re headed home, you already have reusable utensils, right?
  • Do you really need a bag? Just politely say, “no bag, please.” Or bring your own.
  • Got a favorite sauce? Check with your favorite restaurant to see if you can get a bulk container or maybe you can get a refillable container of your favorite sauce. And always keep a bottle of ketchup handy.
  • Is there a restaurant that knows your order before you even have to say it? Maybe you can figure out with the owner a way to bring your own container or just open a discussion to see if there might be a more sustainable way to get your food to go such as compostable or recyclable instead of Styrofoam.
  • Restaurant owners, retrain your employees to ask customers if they need utensils, sauces or napkins instead of automatically putting them in the bag. Imagine how much money you could save if you reduced just half of what they are automatically sending home with them.
  • Notice a restaurant that is doing a great job helping to reduce waste? Share with us on social media or email us and we will give them a shout-out.

Denise Plemmons is the ACC Commercial Recycling Specialist for the Recycling Division. She can be contact at

GreenLifeEXPOlogo192021 GreenLife Awards

Every year the GreenLife Awards is held in Athens, GA to honor organizations and individuals who go above and beyond in creating a more sustainable tomorrow for us all.  This year, we officially announced the GreenLife Award winners on Thursday, April 22, 2021 - Earth Day - through our 2021 Virtual GreenLife Awards program, hosted by Terrapin Beer Co. on their social media pages and ours. It featured awards from Solid Waste and our partnering organizations: Athens-Clarke County Stormwater, Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department, ACC Sustainability Office, Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, UGA Extension, Athens Land Trust, Athens Community Tree Council, State Botanical Garden of Georgia at UGA, Upper Oconee Watershed Network,  and Oconee River Greenway.

The ceremony was held virtual through Terrapin’s “Tapping into Community” Facebook Live series. Terrapin’s “Tapping into Community” is a Facebook Live series which provides a platform for local members in our community to tell their stories. This virtual happy hour can be viewed here:

ACCGOV Recycling Division
Waste Innovator………………………….....………....Michael Goltzer
Business Waste Reduction……………………………W&A Engineering
Oscar, Recycling Coordinator of the Year……….......Sergeant Patricia Marks

Master Composter Program (UGA Extension & ACC Solid Waste Dept.)
Rot Star……………....................................................Condor Chocolates

Waste Innovator- Michael Goltzer

Michael Goltzer Recycling Waste Innovator of the Year

County Employee of the Year- Sergeant Patricia Marks

Sgt. Patricia Marks Recycling County Employee of the Year

Business Waste Reduction- W&A Engineering

W&A Engineering Business Waste Reduction Award

Rot Star- Condor Chocolates

Condor Chocolate Recycling and Extension Rot Star