Editorial: What to do with the glass?

It’s not easy being green. As we diligently reuse and recycle, carefully separating items in our blue boxes, we discover that glass isn’t as recyclable as we thought it was.

In fact, glass from many Greater Victoria condos, townhouses and apartment buildings is no longer being collected for recycling. The problem is: There is no market for it.

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Worse yet, glass breaks and contaminates paper and other stuff in the blue boxes, making them useless, too.

It turns out that glass was always marginal when it came to recycling, but when blue-box programs were created, it was included to get people to buy into the program. So glass was collected, and most of it was ground up for use in construction aggregate.

But it doesn’t make any economic sense to keep doing that.

It doesn’t make environmental sense to toss it into the landfill, where it is prohibited anyway. So what to do? It has taken decades to build up the culture of recycling, and nobody wants to undercut that.

Several initiatives could bear fruit.

First, get people to buy fewer glass containers. That means education. (And does it mean more plastic, which we are trying to curb?)

Second, set up depots for collection of glass, so it doesn’t go into the blue box, but doesn’t go into the garbage, either.

Third, put a deposit on glass, as with bottles, to encourage people to take it to depots.

All those require changes in behaviour — always a challenge. But they are worth a try to keep the glass out of the landfill.

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