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Looking at Tucson's glass reuse program a year later: Successes and drawbacks

Looking at Tucson's glass reuse program a year later: successes and drawbacks
Posted at 7:15 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 14:56:08-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — More than a year ago, the city would pick up your glass and transport it 121 miles to Phoenix.

“It was being land filled essentially or sent to another market and stored,” said Steve Kozachik, Tucson City Councilman, Ward 6.

Kozachik says the glass wasn't being sold or properly reused and this process lost a lot of money.

“This was a real problem, there was nothing to do with it internationally, nothing to do with it domestically," Kozachik said. "So we said let's just keep it here locally and use it.”

So in February of 2021, the city replaced the blue bin pickups with 21 drop off sites. One city department collects the glass from these sites twice a week. The glass is then crushed and used for construction projects, or given to local businesses.

“We can cut this into concrete we can lay slabs with it during the monsoons we can fill ruts in allies,” Kozachik said.

Bottle Rocket is one local business that benefited from this change.

“People now have big boxes of glasses that they’re not sure what to do with,” said Scout Radler, a Bottle Rocket employee.

The business makes candles, counter tops, and benches from recycled materials.

“The change in policy definitely I think made people think differently about how to actually reuse and recycle things since they couldn’t just put it in the trash and not think about it anymore,” Radler said.

But for many Tucsonans, the glass drop-off sites aren't worth the hassle. Before this new program, the city would collect more than 5,000 tons of glass each year from peoples curbside bins. Now, collection sites have a total of 600 tons, that's 90% less.

"Irrespective of whether or not more people are participating, those who are are really buying into the program, and 600 tons is not nothing,” Kozachik said.

Kozachik says at least now the city can ensure all the glass is being reused while also avoiding the long-haul transportation costs.

Addresses for Glass drop-off:

  1. Ward 6 Council Office - 3202 E. 1st Street
  2. Ward 4 Council Office - 8123 E. Poinciana Drive
  3. Quincie Douglas Center - 1575 E. 36th Street
  4. Mission Manor Park - 5900 S. 12th Avenue
  5. Todd Harris Sports Complex - 2400 S. Craycroft Road
  6. Armory Senior Center - 220 S. 5th Avenue
  7. Westside Police Substation - 1310 W. Miracle Mile
  8. Santa Rosa Center - 1080 S. 10th Avenue
  9. El Rio Center - 1390 W. Speedway Blvd.
  10. Eastside Police Substation - 9670 E. Golf Links Road
  11. Archer Center - 1665 S. La Cholla Blvd.
  12. El Pueblo Center - 101 W. Irvington Road
  13. Purple Heart Park - 9800 E. Rita Road
  14. Udall Center - 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road
  15. Mansfield Park - 2000 N. 4th Avenue
  16. Ward 5 Council Office - 4300 S. Park Avenue
  17. Patrick K. Hardesty Center - 1100 S. Alvernon Way
  18. Los Reales Landfill - 5300 E. Los Reales Road
  19. Tucson Fire Department, Station 15 -2002 S Mission Road
  20. Eastside City Hall - 7575 E. Speedway Blvd.
  21. McCormick Park - 2950 N. Columbus Blvd.
  22. Rio Vista Natural Resource Park - 3974 N. Tucson Blvd.