Bars Unable to Recycle Glass Bottles (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw - NBC33

October 24, 2013 Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 6:38 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) – Recycling programs across Allen County have been a major hit for residents, just not as much for local businesses - especially bars and taverns looking to recycle their empty beer bottles.

That’s because recycling companies in Fort Wayne are telling them “thanks, but no thanks” when it comes to glass, making bar owners feel the need to take matters into their own hands.

"I have seriously considered the thought of inviting other pubs and taverns to join me in considering doing away with bottles for awhile and staying with the draft lines,” says Tony Henry, owner of Deer Park Irish Pub. “That sends a very powerful statement that we are very serious about this in being environmentally sensitive."

He feels the amount of empty beer bottles he puts in landfills annually is becoming excessive and wasteful.

"You know, if I were to lay those bottles out end to end, it's about four and a half miles per year I'm laying down. And by now, in the fifteen years I've been in business, we'd be actually going into Indianapolis."

Henry has made his voice heard on a number of occasions to his recycling vendor, Earth First, and they agree that something needs to be done. Unfortunately there is nothing they can do because recycling glass is too expensive and not cost effective for their business.

"It's volume, there is some sort of processing, economics, it's really cost of processing to make it worthwhile is the biggest issue with it,” says Barry Howard with Earth First. “It's just that we can't cost-effectively do it."

Howard explains that while glass is one of the easiest commodities to recycle, it is also one of the heaviest. And in order to recycle the empty bottles, they would have to ship them all to a processing plant in Indianapolis.

"We need somebody who is in the glass industry recycling material closer to our market area. Right now, it's a heavy item so transportation costs are high on it. And as the weight goes up, you can't move the volumes that they want."

Howard says Earth First would seriously consider re-approaching the topic of recycling glass for establishments like Deer Park, but unless a glass processor is built within 50 miles of Fort Wayne their hands are tied.

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