Unlike similarly-populated cities, no curbside glass recycling in Albuquerque

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The city of Albuquerque doesn’t do something that other big cities have been doing for years: curbside glass recycling. So, KRQE News 13 asked the city why not—and if it ever will?

Seven million pounds of glass were recycled in Albuquerque in 2018, but some people think that number would be a lot higher if the process was more convenient.

“It can be a little bit of an inconvenience and I know people who don’t bother to recycle glass because of that,” said Todd Ruecker, an Albuquerque resident who dropped off some glass Wednesday.

“It would be nice if we did have some actual curbside service, but unfortunately you know, we just… it’s Albuquerque,” Alex Maccini, another recycler, said.

Unlike Milwaukee, Tucson and Fresno—all of which have similar populations as Albuquerque—glass is not recycled at the curb in Albuquerque.

“Right now our focus is to ‘recycle right’ and for us, that means recycling glass separately,” Diane Wikler, a spokesperson with the city’s Solid Waste Department, said.

That means you have to take glass to be recycled, yourself. There are 16 recycling drop off locations around Albuquerque—all but one accept glass.

“This is one of the recycling centers I frequent because they do have the glass recycling. That thing is always full when we come to bring our glass, ” said Edward Gonzales, who lives in Belen and stopped at the recycling center on University near the UNM sports complex Wednesday.

“The reason we don’t do it at the curbside is because glass can actually harm the recycling process,” Wikler explained.

So why not do separate curbside bins for glass? The city believes that would be worse for the carbon footprint with more trucks on the streets.

“Separate bins would mean separate collection routes most likely, and that actually from an energy perspective is not as efficient,” Wikler said.

Through ads and PSAs, the city hopes that people will make glass recycling a part of their normal routine. New drop-off locations are always being sought by the city, and some are placed at or near grocery stores in an effort to make it convenient.

“We try to collect it up and then come maybe once every month or so,” Ruecker said.

“I try to be a little more environmentally conscious and bring it out here and get rid of it,” Maccini said.

Although, all the recyclers KRQE News 13 spoke with Wednesday said the amount of glass recycled would probably be a lot higher if it was easier for residents.

“It really is a pain every time I have to drop off glass and I have to save my glass all the time this way, just bags of glass around the house or boxes and that’s just kind of a pain,” Maccini said.

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