KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — People in Blount County now have a place to recycle glass.
The county will formally cut the ribbon on a new glass recycling facility on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Blount County Operations Center at 1227 McArthur Road in Maryville. The ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m.
Glass recycling used to be more commonly available at centers, but in the past decade or so many stopped offering the service because the market for whole-container recycled glass dried up alongside issues with sorting glass and high processing costs. Cities like Knoxville also got rid of curbside glass recycling for similar reasons, saying much of the glass intended for recycling ended up going to landfill.
However, there is still a market for recycled glass as a crushed-up byproduct.
Blount County received a glass pulverizer from upstate New York earlier this year, allowing Maryville to become one of the few places in Tennessee outside the larger metropolitan areas able to recycle glass. The facility opened a couple of months ago, but the county said it has already received awards from the East Tennessee Development District and Tennessee County Highway Officials Association.
The pulverizer makes it easy for people to recycle glass because it doesn't require you to sort glass by color or remove labels. It is able to filter glass through a rotary trammel screen that separates labels and other waste from the recycled glass.
The machine is able to process 10 tons of waste glass in an hour and turn it into fine sand or grounded glass gravel with rounded edges, making it safe for many uses.
"When you start turning it back to the way the Good Lord put it on this Earth, that's pretty special," said Jeff Headrick, the Blount County Highway Superintendent.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said this project proves his county's commitment to preserving the environment.
"In 25 and 50 years, what we're doing today will have such an impact on this community, on Blount County and on Earth," Mayor Mitchell said.
Local highway projects can use the finer glass sand as a material to treat roads during winter or improve the reflectivity of road stripe paint. It also can be used for projects like grouting, sandblasting, landscaping, and more.
The recycling center is located at 331 Levi Street in Maryville next to the operations center and is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Glass should be dropped in the blue dumpster in the parking area by the recycling office.