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Archive for Saturday, March 28, 2009

Message in a bottle: New KU group hopes to persuade bars to recycle glass

Kate Wasserman, vice president of Kansas University’s Students for Bar Recycling, and Andrew Stanley, president, have formed an organization that seeks to help Lawrence bars find an economically feasible way to recycle glass.

Kate Wasserman, vice president of Kansas University’s Students for Bar Recycling, and Andrew Stanley, president, have formed an organization that seeks to help Lawrence bars find an economically feasible way to recycle glass.

March 28, 2009

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Andrew Stanley was sitting with a group of friends at The Jazzhaus when the bar announced last call.

“We had a table full of beers we’d been drinking that night,” the Kansas University senior recalls. “We went to recycle them, and (an employee) said, ‘No, we don’t recycle. Just throw them in here.’ So I threw them in this giant trash bin that was full of bottles. I thought it was crazy that they didn’t recycle.”

Consequently, Stanley decided to do some research to find out if the lack of glass recycling was typical among Lawrence establishments.

“We went on the Lawrence.com list of bars and started calling every one,” he says. “We weren’t received very well. People would respond, ‘No we don’t,’ then hang up. We called about 25 bars before we gave up trying to find one that recycled.”

The incident compelled Stanley to form Students for Bar Recycling, a KU organization that launched in December with the mission of convincing Lawrence watering holes to alter their recycling practices.

Stanley says, “We have a goal of overall Lawrence recycling — not just two or three bars people can go to. Our approach is to do a pilot program with one specific bar where we can go in and do waste audits to get a feel for how much they’re paying for solid waste, versus how much they’re paying for recycling.”

To put that plan into action, he and fellow Students for Bar Recycling (SBR) members contacted the newly opened Wilde’s Chateau 24, 2412 Iowa, and volunteered to haul away a Friday night’s worth of spent bottles to the 12th and Haskell Bargain Center.

They gathered 144 pounds of glass.

“It’s not a very easy task to ask bars to do recycling because there’s so much waste produced in one night. But I think because Lawrence is such an eco-friendly city, it was exciting to think about the possibility,” says Kate Wasserman, KU senior and vice president of SBR.

“I feel like there are a lot of bars that would be accepting of the idea if it were made accessible to them.”

Problem areas

Nick Carroll was one of the first bar owners contacted by the students.

“It’s a great idea, but it’s going to take some development to get it to work. It’s a lot of glass,” says Carroll, who owns The Replay Lounge, 946 Mass., and The Jackpot Music Hall, 943 Mass.

From the day the Replay opened in 1993, Carroll says the establishment has been recycling cans, which account for about 50 percent of beer sales. He says the Replay typically sells 1,500 cans a week. (Currently, the operation is serviced twice a week by Cans for the Community, a Lawrence nonprofit that provides financial support to other nonprofits in Douglas County through recycling aluminum containers.)

But glass is a different story.

Carroll explains glass is problematic because if left outside too long it attracts swarms of flies.

“The other problem with glass is it’s dangerous,” he says. “If someone’s doing recycling in their house, where they’re only producing a trash can full of glass, it’s doable. But we’re producing hundreds of pounds a week of really sharp shards.”

He estimates glass bottles account for about 25 percent of Replay sales and about 60 percent for the Jackpot.

Right now there is no service in town that will collect such a large volume of glass for free.

“When we’re doing thousands of bottles, we have to pay to have that service. If there’s (an economic) solution to where we can feasibly recycle glass, most bars would like to do it,” he says.

Carroll suggests if even a quarter of the glass could be salvaged rather than attempting to do it all at once, that would be a start. He would be willing to pay for that service up to a point, but he says it would be unlikely that most area bars would want to spend hundreds of dollars a month to fulfill the duty.

He says since all his cans and cardboard are already recycled, the only holdout is the glass.

“We really don’t have any other trash. It’s just beer bottles,” Carroll says. “It’s not like we throw kegs away.”

Re-use it or lose it

Efforts by Students for Bar Recycling are already beginning to make an impact.

Stanley says several bars in Lawrence and Kansas City have contacted his organization about wanting to recycle. Also, students in Oklahoma and California have apparently established similar organizations after hearing about SBR.

“People know about us, but we haven’t accomplished what we set out to accomplish yet,” Stanley says.

He hopes this week will make a difference when the group hosts its first official event: Students for Bar Recycling April Fool’s Day Party. The Wednesday gathering will feature four local acts (headlined by the Braswell Roberts Band) and begin at 9 p.m. at The Granada, 1020 Mass.

SBR will be selling mugs with its logo at the show. Proceeds will go to buying recycling bins for the bars.

Stanley hopes to throw a green pub crawl within the next few months in which he signs up five bars that agree to recycle. Until then, he’s still searching for a business to accept his pilot program.

“We hope to prove that it’s not that difficult for a bar to do. Once we have those results, we plan on going to the city commissioners to pass an ordinance,” he says.

The group’s biggest ally so far hails from outside the state.

Previously, glass recycled in Lawrence was transported to St. Louis or Oklahoma City. (“You factor in transportation costs, and it may not make sense both environmentally or economically to recycle it,” Stanley says.) But by the end of summer, Ripple Glass, a new glass processing plant started by the owners of Boulevard Brewing Co., will open in Kansas City, Mo.

Stanley says they’ve agreed to help SBR provide a roll-off bin in Lawrence.

“Recycling has always been the easiest way we can do our part to help protect this earth,” Wasserman says. “It’s so easy: Instead of putting it in one trash can, you just put it in another one.”

Comments

scribe 5 years, 9 months ago

great idea! hope it flies. if you call for volunteers with trucks for saturday and sunday morning pickups, I bet you'll see a good response in this town. these are the kind of forward thinking kids i want to see helping to run the country when i'm old.

MichaelC 5 years, 9 months ago

This article makes it seem that Wilde’s Chateau 24 only recycled as part of this program. In fact, they are one of the only bars in Lawrence that recycles all of their glass and cardboard and has since the day they opened. If you want to promote recycling within the bars, you should give some credit to the people who are already getting it done.

ralphralph 5 years, 9 months ago

A recycling pet peeve: lack of facts. Has there been any analysis of the cost, energy input, and hazardous material usage/disposal, etc. on recycling of glass as opposed to making new glass? If so, I never hear of it or read about it. Same with virtually every other type of recycling. If it is truly better, for example, to recycle paper than to farm pine trees and mill new paper (which it may or may not be), then give me the facts ... what are the inputs and wastes from each option and how do they compare?
People are always ready "emotionally" to go green ... I'd like to do it logically. You could mobilize even more people if you can show them, by factual and honest comparison, that it really makes sense to recycle, rather than just making you feel good. Anybody in this City of Learning have that kind of info or links to the same? I'm ready to be converted, but you have to go after my brain, not just my heart (and yes, it's a smaller target!).

mapletree 5 years, 9 months ago

A (partial) simple solution for at least the bars downtown might be to add a glass dumpster near the trash and cardboard dumpsters that already exist in the alleys. Then, those bars that want to make the effort to separate glass from the rest of their trash would have a place to put it. Many bars simply don't have room to store so much glass while waiting for it to be picked up or carted off somewhere.

christy kennedy 5 years, 9 months ago

I know there are logistical hurdles, but all this time we homeowners have been recycling our small piles of stuff, it feels totally insignificant considering the HUGE amount that's not recycled at commercial establishments and large events. There's gotta be a way. Thanks for getting this going!

Jaylee 5 years, 9 months ago

ralphralph,

no offense dude, but if the information concerns you that greatly, why not just google it yourself?

the point of recycling though, is to not continue harvesting resources we simply cannot replenish.

when you consider harvesting that pine tree, there are more effects than that paper being produced-- there are also countless organisms and their home being destroyed that may have been an integral part of the ecosystem from which that pine was derived. you are also losing CO2 conversion to oxygen every time you hack a tree. looooootta CO2 out there!

where were you in the nineties man?

terrapin2 5 years, 9 months ago

This has always bothered me as well, but I wouldn't stop with the bars. If they really want to address the issue on a broader scale they need to include restaurants too. I know it's a pain to separate and store glass for recycling, but I bet we're talking about thousands of tons of glass being dumped into our local landfill every year, which will fill up eventually. So on a local level there is a host of other issues to consider. Here is a good summary explanation of how recycling glass is more beneficial than creating new glass from scratch (from ReachoutMichigan.org)

When the glass is taken to a manufacturing or recycling plant, it is broken up into smaller pieces called cullet........The cost savings of recycling is in the use of energy. When glass is made from scratch, high temperatures are needed to melt and combine all the ingredients. Since cullet melts at a lower temperature, the more of it you add to a batch of raw materials, the less energy you will need to melt it. Recycling glass is not only cost-efficient; it benefits the environment in several ways. Glass produced from recycled glass instead of raw materials reduces related air pollution by 20% and related water pollution by 50%. Throwaway bottles consume three times as much energy as reusable, returnable containers. And, recycling glass reduces the space in landfills that would otherwise be taken up by used bottles and jars.

Ten to twelve percent of the glass used in the United States is recycled. Much of the glass used is not recycled. According to the Earthworks Group, about 28 billion bottles and jars are thrown away every year.

Surely we can recycle more than 10-12% of the glass used in this country!

cowboy 5 years, 9 months ago

It is well documented that recycling glass is a losing proposition. Many who started these programs have discontinued them.

lawrencegrl 5 years, 9 months ago

MichaelC & Ocean you are right about Wildes Chateau 24 recycling glass & cardboard. This club also hasn't had the fights and trouble some other clubs in town have had. Nice to have a club that cares about its customers & image.

astanley86 5 years, 9 months ago

Hellow LJW readers, this is Andrew from students for bar recycling. Just wanted to post that I am excited to have started this dialogue about recycling at bars. We do hope to include restaurants as well. Please check out our website www.barrecycling.com to find out more about our research and progress.. we are modeling ourselves after a non profit organization in North Carolina that helps bars and restaurants recycle because of a new law that was passed requiring that establishments separate all their trash. There is another website, www.sustainabilityissexy.com that we are modeling ourselves after as well. I encourage you to contact me if you have questions, suggestions, ideas.. astanley86@gmail.com -

This article is really great! Jon Niccum did a terrific job of representing us - there is no spin to this article, just the facts. I am glad that Chateau has agreed to recycle, but like the article says we are hoping to get many if not all bars to eventually support us. One thing consumers can do is to order beer from the tap in reusable glassware .. that way we are reducing the need to produce glass and worry about where the bottle goes when you are done.

Danimal 5 years, 9 months ago

Recycling glass is stupid. It takes far more energy to recycle glass as apposed to making a new bottle or reusing the old one. Getting breweries and other producers that package in glass to clean and reuse their containers is the best way to go with glass. We used to do this I don't know why we stopped.

astanley86 5 years, 9 months ago

1) Oklahoma City/St. Louis (but soon Kansas City thanks to Ripple Glass) 2) Ripple Glass will pay transit fee from Lawrence to their glass processing facility 3) The goal is for this not to be necessary.. we will find out after the pilot program results 4) Which breweries? I would like to know more about this. I have not come across this in all of my research. I would think microbreweries would be the most likely to reuse their bottles but all of the ones I contacted did not. This would be a great solution for our efforts to be more sustainable.

nobody1793 5 years, 9 months ago

Here's a better solution: chose from the beers on tap. If you don't like them, find a better bar. No bottles, no problem.

astanley86 5 years, 9 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn)

Air and Waste Management Association, Midwest America Regional Council, City of Lawrence Waste Reduction and Recycling, Boulevard Brewery, and all the Lawrence recycling curbside providers have confirmed that bottles cannot be reused from any manufacturer except for the special edition coke bottles which are only available during Christmas time... I wish it were the case, and we will be advocating for manufacturers to use better materials so that the bottles can be reused rather than just recycled, but for now recycling them is a much better alternative than throwing them away.

Clear, brown, blue, and green glass can all be co-mingled for the Ripple Glass plant.

Local curbside providers (http://www.lawrenceks.org/wrr/rescurbside) have agreed to extend their services to the bars.. ranging from $6/7 a pick up to $30-$35 a month for the service. Yes, this is an added expense for the bars, but one they are willing to pay. Also we think that by reducing the amount of trash, this cost may be offset or dramatically reduced.

Our organization gives promotion on campus for the bars that pay this fee. So bars aren't just paying for a recycling service but for PR and campus wide grassroots support.

skylights 5 years, 8 months ago

Recycling glass isn't environmentally sound because too much energy is required to recycle it. I can think of a couple alternatives: 1. Re-usable bottles that you return to the store to get your deposit back. 2. Aluminum bottles that work on existant bottling lines. Boulevard is putting their Unfiltered Wheat beer in these. Recycling these is environmentally sound.

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