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Onondaga County recycling agency says take glass to redemption centers, not blue bin

Some glass containers to bring to redemption centers, instead of recycling bins.

Onondaga County’s recycling organization is urging residents to stop putting certain glass containers into their blue recycle bins. OCRRA, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, is partnering with bottle redemption centers to take care of some glass that ends up in the trash.

The problem, according to OCRRA’s Kristen Lawton, is when you put something like a wine bottle into a blue bin with the rest of your recyclables, it’s like throwing it away.

"It’s been a challenge with the blue bin, because it’s so contaminated, you really can’t turn them into new bottles in this geographic area, because it’s not cost effective," Lawton said.

Those bottles ultimately end up in a landfill with other trash. To avoid this, OCCRA has started working with ten bottle redemption centers in Onondaga County to take your sorted bottles and turn them over to companies that create new bottles out of old. This applies to bottles that aren’t redeemable, specifically, wine and liquor bottles, as well as iced tea or other non-alcoholic glass beverage bottles.  Lawton said the environment benefits in a couple of ways.

"If you take time to set this aside with other redeemables and drop it off, maybe it’s once a month, you’re turning this into something that can be recycled over and over again,” she said. “And it also helps our shorelines, because you don’t have to mine sand to create new glass."

If this program is successful, Lawton said it could be used as a nudge to encourage state lawmakers to consider including these kinds of containers in the state’s redeemable bottle program.

Find a list of redeemable drop off locations here.

Here’s an OCRRA video explaining it all.


Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.