A new change in Dubuque's recycling program means all those empty glass bottles from holiday weekend festivities can no longer go into the city's curbside recycling bins.
The change went into effect July 1, but there are still options for recycling those glass containers.
At Center Redemption in Dubuque, manager Shannon Moller said she expects to see more people bringing in glass containers, now that the city no longer collects them curbside.
"Most of your typical beer bottles that you see, especially Budweiser, Miller products, we take pretty much everything from them," Moller said.
She said the center processes about 50,000 beer bottles and 800-900 wine and liquor bottles per week, but that includes the containers they pick up from restaurants and businesses.
Jesse Fullmer is a Center Redemption customer, who has been bringing cans and glass bottles to the center over the last few years. He said he has benefited from the state's five-cent bottle redemption.
"Since coming here from the very beginning? Probably a couple hundred dollars already," Fullmer said.
He enjoys the cash and satisfaction of recycling, but "The downside would be, you spend the gas getting here," Fullmer said.
Moller said only some glass bottles come with the refund.
"It'll say right on here, a non-returnable bottle," Moller said, pointing to the label on a beer bottle. "On your wine bottles, usually it's really easy to tell. You have your sticker right on there."
Wine bottles in Iowa have a yellow sticker, designating it eligible for the five-cent refund.
With the city's Public Works Department, resource management coordinator Paul Schultz said the July 1 change is going well.
"Our estimate is that, already, 80 percent of our customers who regularly set out glass are no longer setting out glass," he said.
Additionally, people can take their glass directly to contractor Dittmer Recycling at 1776 Radford Road. There's a special container for glass.
"That will be turned into new bottles or fiber glass," Schultz said.
Folks can also drop off glass containers at the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Landfill, at 14501 Highway 20 West, where a special container sits just inside the landfill gate. That glass will be recycled.
As for convenience, Schultz said, "The simplest way, which is still sustainable, is to put it in their trash."
Between throwing glass in the trash, taking it to Dittmer Recycling, dropping it off at the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Landfill and taking it to local redemption centers, people in Dubuque have options.
Schultz the said city estimates it will save more than $100,000 annually by eliminating glass from its curbside recycling service.
It passed some of those savings on to customers, lowering the monthly solid waste collection fee by 37 cents.
Elsewhere in Eastern Iowa, there's no curbside glass recycling in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, or Iowa City, but all three cities accept glass at drop-off stations.
Cedar Rapids does pick up most glass for curbside pickup, but not in the "curby." Glass from food and drink containers must be set out separately in buckets.
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