Glass recycling drop-off center coming to Dubuque grocery store

A third glass recycling drop-off site soon will be up and running in Dubuque.

The new container will be at Hy-Vee, 2395 Northwest Arterial, through an agreement with Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency.

Agency Administrator Ken Miller said the container’s exact location on the store’s property still is being discussed, but the information will soon be shared on the agency’s social media accounts. The goal is to open the site by early February.

“We based it on feedback from residents on areas they’d like to see glass recycling, and they expressed interest in the west end of town,” he said.

Hy-Vee Store Director Paul Hoppman said he believes the container will be located toward the front of the store, and people will be able to dump glass at any time.

“We work really hard on recycling here at the store and donating our pulled food products, making sure we’re composting, so this is just the next step,” he said. “And honestly, it’ll be good for us to have an outlet for our glass, too.”

The agency started two other glass recycling drop-off sites in April — one at the Dubuque landfill and one at the City of Dubuque’s Municipal Service Center, 925 Kerper Court. An $18,000 Iowa Department of Natural Resources grant covered the cost for all the containers.

Miller said Galena, Ill., and Bellevue, Iowa, also haul their recycled glass to the Dubuque landfill. Each of those communities has one recycling container located in town. The landfill has been receiving recycled glass from Galena since January 2020, and Bellevue just starting hauling its glass to Dubuque in December.

Miller said the landfill collected just more than 120 tons of glass last year from all of the sites hauling glass to the landfill, much more than the roughly 25 tons of glass initially estimated.

“It’s proven to be a pretty popular program,” Miller said.

Bev Wagner, agency education and communication coordinator, said staff members were happily surprised with the level of participation in the program. She added that there hasn’t been much contamination, or nonglass items, put in the containers, which could put a stop to the program if increased.

Glass has to be processed differently than other recyclables, Wagner said. There aren’t many nearby centers with this capability, which is why the City of Dubuque dropped the collection of glass recycling years ago.

The closest place that processes recycled glass is in Kansas City, which is where the landfill sends its haul, Wagner said. The glass then is turned into fiberglass insulation or made into new glass bottles.

“When the city dropped glass recycling, that was a blow to the core of recycling for many people,” she said. “The hardcore recyclers felt that glass was really important, and we think that’s why people jumped on it so quickly.”