October 27, 2021

City reaches no solution on glass recycling

stock image of recycling


A quick civic quiz question for Cortland city residents: What are you supposed to do with your recyclable glass come Jan. 1?

Answer: There is no answer.

On Jan. 1, the Cortland County recycling center will stop accepting recycling that has glass mixed in. This change in policy has left city officials scrambling to find a way to change the city’s recycling policy, which allows for the weekly pickup of mixed recyclables, including glass.

While aldermen anticipated adopting a new glass separation policy Tuesday night, the Common Council took no action. Instead, after more than 45 minutes of discussion, the council asked county Legislator Cathy Bischoff (D-Cortland) to communicate its concerns to county officials. Among them:

• City officials, who complained that the county did not give them enough warning of the impending glass-rule change, want more time to find a solution.

• The city wants to coordinate its public outreach campaign with the county’s effort.

• City officials want to know if the city can be granted a waiver to the county’s flow control law so the city’s trash hauler can take the city’s recycling outside of the county to a center that accepts mixed recycling.

The proposal to allow for separated glass pickup collapsed after it met strong opposition from Chris Bistocchi, superintendent of public works, Bert Adams, the city’s trash hauler, and Alderman Thomas Michales (R-8th Ward).

“It’s going to be nightmare,” Bistocchi said of the proposal. “I’m warning you all right now.”

Adams said the proposal would “be a disaster,” and Michales pictured a scenario of snowplows knocking bins of glass into the street.

Material accepted for recycling

• Glass must be separated from other recyclables, cleaned and discard lids, caps and tops.

• Only plastic containers with lids, caps and tops will be accepted. They must be cleaned, dried and the lid, cap or top removed.

• Metal containers must be clean and dry. Discard lid, cap or top.

• Mixed paper will be accepted, but hard covers must be removed. It must be clean and dry.

• Shredded paper will be accepted in a bag.

• Cardboard must be flattened, clean and dried. No wax coated or food or grease stained boxes.

•E-waste recycling will still be accepted.

For a more comprehensive list of what is and isn’t accepted, go online at:

— Source: Recycling Center Coordinator Renee Parks

Kat McCarthy (D-1st Ward) and Kathryn Silliman (D-2nd Ward), who created the proposal, agreed the city did not have enough time to inform residents of the change, which would result in confusion and likely failure.

“We’re less than a month out now. That’s really not a good position to be in,” McCarthy said after the meeting.

Bistocchi suggested the city seek a waiver from the flowcontrol law that requires trash generated in the county go to the county landfill in order to send its recycling elsewhere. This move, however, would require the city to raise its blue bag price about 65 cents to pay the processing fee for glass that all recycling centers now charge.

The council now awaits a report from Bischoff on the county’s response.

The Common Council has one more regularly scheduled meeting before the end of the month — Dec. 17 — in which to act on this issue.