That glass pickle jar you were planning to throw out now has a chance for a second life as bits of construction material.
Glass recycling returned to Anchorage Wednesday for the first time since 2009, said Donna Mears, the city's Solid Waste Services recycling co-ordinator.
Bottles and jars only can be dropped off at the Anchorage Recycling Center at 6161 Rosewood St., between the Old and New Seward Highways off Dowling Road.
There's no curbside pickup, as there is for other recycling materials such as paper and aluminum cans, but in the spring, a second drop-off site may be added, Mears said.
Glass recycling ended in Anchorage in 2009 when the market dried up for then-recycler EK Industries, Mears said. EK Industries was using recycled glass to create a high-end sand-like product mainly for sandblasting ships, she said. The demand for such material dropped during the recession.
Besides that, Mears said, specialized markets like the one EK Industries tapped are small. "You don't want to hang your whole hat on them."
This time, the main use for the recycled glass will be as aggregate -- fill material for roads and bedding to lay water and sewer pipes on.
That's possible because the Municipality of Anchorage and the Alaska Department of Transportation recently approved inclusion of glass in construction material.
The state DOT announced its decision this week. Mike San Angelo, statewide materials engineer for the department, said the state looked at what other states are doing and came up with a plan to start using recycled glass here. Recycled glass can make up about 10 percent of the fill on a given project, he said. That's probably enough to consume most of the glass available in Anchorage, San Angelo said.
He's not sure whether it will be less expense for contractors, but it will be produced locally. Most aggregate used in Anchorage now comes via railroad from the Valley, he said.
A company named Central Recycling Services will clean and crush the glass to make aggregate products.
Contractors can go to Central Recycling's web site to find the specifications for use of recycled glass aggregate in projects for the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, the state DOT, or the municipality, said Kauai Alpha, recycling director for Central Recycling.
The glass recycling program is happening through a partnership of the city Solid Waste Services, Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling, Central Recycling, and RockTenn, the company that operates the Anchorage Recycling Center.
Mears said while they're starting with aggregate, in the future she hopes more specialized products can be created.
For example, she said, "A clean glass aggregate can be more helpful as treatment than native sand in a septic system. I'd love to see that potential explored."
But the first job is to make sure no matter how much glass Anchorage residents are willing to recycle, there's a place for it, she said.
Reach Rosemary Shinohara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4340.
By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA
Alaska Dispatch Publishing