Mason City officials still searching for solutions for glass, plastic recycling

MASON CITY — For more than three months, the glass and plastic placed in Mason City’s curbside recycling bins has not been recycled. The city has been forced to dump those recyclables at the Landfill of North Iowa because the Mason City Recycling Center is no longer accepting glass or plastic.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says the city has continued recycling collections in the hopes of correcting that lack of having an outlet for those materials.  “We continue to analyze that situation, working with our partner the Landfill of North Iowa, which is a regional landfill, hoping that we’re able to come to some solution there, but unfortunately it appears in the long term that our existing outlet is not going to resume collecting those materials. Unfortunately we have to figure out a different way to take care of that.”

Burnett says for now, the only solution for the city is to take those materials to the landfill.  “In the interim, those plastic and glass materials have been going to the landfill. I think it’s an unfortunate outcome but unavoidable because we can’t stockpile those and just hope for someplace to release those. Until we really are able to find that solution working with partners, we’ll continue to have to take those materials to the landfill.”

Burnett says city staff continues to work on finding an answer.  “Deputy Administrator Hinson just attended the landfill meeting last week and relayed the concerns of the city. I think we’ve heard it from a lot of citizens about the concerns about this, and we don’t take those lightly, and we’ll continue to work hard to find a better outcome for those materials.”

According to environmental organization Sierra Club, glass presents tough recycling problems — including lack of end markets, contamination, and transportation costs — partly because it weighs about 10 times as much as a similar volume of plastic or aluminum. Another factor in the market is China’s decision to stop taking much of the world’s waste in 2018. That caused the price to plummet domestically as supply skyrocketed.