Fayetteville tests glass recycling program for Dickson Street bars and restaurants

A dumpster just off Shipley Alley is one of two containers being used as part of a glass recycling test program for eight Dickson Street bars and restaurants.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

Every year, thousands of beverages served in glass bottles are consumed on Dickson Street. Millions maybe? It’s a lot.

To this point, a majority of those glass bottles have ended up in a landfill, but a new program being tested by Fayetteville’s solid waste and recycling department hopes to change that.

The city began a new glass recycling pilot program last week when eight Dickson Street bars and restaurants started working to test the feasibility of taking the program citywide.

“What we’re doing is a starting with just a few businesses,” said Brian Pugh, waste reduction coordinator for the city. “We’re going to see what volumes are generated, evaluate it, see how many containers we need and what kind of costs we’d be looking at, and go from there.”

Pugh said that Jose’s, Bordinos, Doe’s, Kingfish, Sideways, Ryleigh’s, Wasabi, and Farrell’s Lounge are the first to participate in the new program.

Doug Allen, co-owner of Jose’s, said things are off to a good start.

“We’re very excited to be chosen,” he said. “So far it’s been great. It took a little getting used to for our staff, but by the end of the weekend, we were staring to get the hang of it.”

The program is made possible in part by a Kansas City-based company called Ripple Glass, a new recycling vendor for the city that does not require separation of colored glasses.

“The big thing is they have a facility that is able to separate the brown glass from the clear,” Pugh said. “That really just wasn’t something the bars and restaurants were willing to do.”

Ripple Glass either sells the recycled material to Boulevard Brewing Company, or uses it to make fiberglass insulation. Pugh said while company doesn’t pay for the glass, the city isn’t charged for the transportation of the materials. “It ends up being a wash for us,” he said.

“One thing that’s really cool is at the end of the year, they look at how much you recycle, and give you some insulation you can use for things like Habitat for Humanity, and other programs in the community,” he said.

Pugh said that he wasn’t sure how long the pilot program would last, but that he hopes it’s successful enough to eventually expand to other areas of the city.

As with most city programs, cost is always a big factor.

“The pilot program we’re working on is free, but there is a cost component to (an expanded program),” Pugh said. “We can recycle anything as long as we can pay for it. We’re trying to find out what those costs will be, and hopefully we can find a way to cover those costs to make it happen.”