Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

Great Falls recycling options are few to none when it comes to plastic and glass

Recycling options remain a challenge in many communities across the country. Great Falls residents have ample choices to recycle items such as paper and metals, but options for glass and plastics are few to none.

Steel, Etc. office manager Kory Hastings says they accepted some forms of plastic up until last month.

recycling plastics

Great Falls recycling options are few to none when it comes to plastic and glass

Hastings says the cost of recycling plastics far outweighs the financial benefits and is directly influenced by a number of factors, including gas and crude oil prices, along with travel and freight expenses.

“Your input costs as far as your handling, all the different grading that goes into it and the, cleaning of the plastics and everything and just, it’s a lot of physical labor that goes into it and it just costs money to do it,” said Hastings.

Pacific Steele and Recycling branch manager Aaron Hartnell also says his company has also experienced rising costs but says the company is the only location in Great Falls to take in plastic items, excluding grocery bags.

“Business comes down to a profit and, uh, if we can find a way to at least break even, its a good service to the community,” said Hartnell.

Hartnell says they have a large bin that is filled every other day with around 11,000 pounds of plastic.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality Recycling & Market Development Specialist Dusti Johnson says what is adding to the problem is that most of the markets for US plastic recyclables are overseas. Johnson says countries like China, have tightened their environmental regulations and stopped accepting the recyclables.

“It’s now saying, ‘hey, um, we’re gonna control our import license strictly- very, very strictly and that’s, that’s causing a back up, means that they’re saying, ‘we don’t need as much of this product coming from America’ and so they’re shutting that down,” said Johnson.

Johnson says overseas exports to countries like India and Malaysia are also becoming more difficult as those countries tighten their regulations and import requirements.

While it is a challenge to recycle plastic, it is even harder to find a place to recycle glass. Johnson says previous retailers have tried plastic and glass bins throughout the state, but those were taken away due to users not sorting their recyclables properly.