CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Recycling glass in the Lowcountry is becoming a headache for some local businesses including and Isle of Palms hotspot, The Co-op.
With two locations on Lowcountry beaches, The Co-op takes recycling seriously. After witnessing their hired waste management company, Carolina Waste, dumping their recycling and trash dumpsters into the same truck, they began looking for answers.
“That’s always been a big thing for the owner,” explained Anna Bainbridge, a manager at The Co-op. “Supporting any type of recycling just kind of doing good and helping out in the community.”
The Co-op is known for a frosty wine concoction, frosé. The company sells the drink in several flavors like OG Strawberry, Prickly Pear, and more.
Making the frosé requires a hefty stock of wine. The bottles are delivered in cardboard boxes, so at the end of the day, The Co-op has a huge stack of recyclable materials.
Bainbridge tells News 2, they had to get recycling pick up bumped up to two times a week instead of just one. That was until an employee noticed Carolina Waste tossing their recycling efforts in the trash.
“She saw them putting the same dumpster… both the recycling and the trash in the same truck and so we were like well, what’s the point in us doing it?” Bainbridge asked.
After contacting Carolina Waste to inquire about what the employee saw, Bainbridge said the company informed her that waste and recycling are “separated once arriving at their facility.” Carolina Waste also told The Co-op they no longer accepted glass.
“They informed us that we needed to figure out a different way for our glass disposal? They said they were no longer accepting glass anymore,” Bainbridge told News 2.
Business owners put in the time and resources to separate glass from other waste to reduce their impact on the environment.
We reached out to Carolina Waste to find out if they are aware of the situation. They declined an on-camera interview but sent some responses to a few of our questions.
When asked about The Co-op’s claim they neither confirmed nor denied that it happened.
What it all boils down to, according to Carolina Waste, is what they consider ‘contamination’ citing it in the answers to five of our six questions.
They said contamination is “often a reason that materials that would otherwise be recycled must be disposed of as trash instead” and that it is “a significant factor that impacts recycling efforts.”
With summer moving in and customers gearing up for frosé all-day The Co-op has decided to make a change to ensure their recycling efforts are worth it. They’ve moved on to another recycling company. A change they say is for the good of the environment.
“Just everybody do your part, man! That’s what we’re trying to do. Just trying to make sure it gets done,” said Bainbridge.
Q&A with Carolina Waste
News 2: We have received claims that waste and recycling are being dumped into the same truck from several businesses around the Charleston area. We have since learned these companies are Carolina Waste customers. Are you aware of this? Why do you think this could be happening?
Carolina Waste: Carolina Waste takes pride in our ability to aid the greater tri-county in its ability to recycle. Carolina Waste provides commercial recycling services to many customers in the area. Contamination is often a reason that materials that would otherwise be recycled must be disposed as trash instead. We encourage our customers to reach out and our team is willing to come out and educate customers on effective recycling methods and best practices to avoid contamination.
News 2: Does your company accept glass recycling? If not, why? If not, is this a recent change?
Carolina Waste: Carolina Waste accepts food and beverage glass as part of our commercial comingle recycling service, however customers that are OCC (cardboard only) should not place glass in their containers. Glass in the cardboard only containers is considered contamination. The recycling center does not accept Cardboard mixed with glass.
News 2: What factors affect recycling efforts? (contamination, employees, space, cost, etc.)
Carolina Waste: Contamination is a significant factor that impacts recycling efforts.
News 2: Are there other types of recyclable materials (plastic, cardboard, etc.) that are not being accepted? What does Carolina Waste accept in terms of recyclable items?
Carolina Waste: Carolina Waste accepts a variety of popular recyclables. Commercial comingle service includes (plastic with necks on them, food and beverage glass, paper and cardboard). OCC service includes (Cardboard only).
News 2: What message would you send to the public to encourage them to keep doing their part in recycling?
Carolina Waste: We encourage our customers to contact us with any questions about recycling practices. We will gladly visit our customers’ businesses to provide information about minimizing contamination and other ways to help maximize recycling in our community.
News 2: How can you assure the public and your customers that their recycling efforts are not going to waste?
Carolina Waste: We encourage all of our customers to be diligent about keeping recyclable materials uncontaminated and to contact us with any questions about our recycling services.