Another Step Toward Zero Waste

About 40 invited guests–donors, contractors, public servants, and ORS staff–gathered to dedicate the new glass crusher on November 3, 2021 to celebrate Orcas Recycling Services (ORS) moving closer to its mission of “creating a zero waste community.” Jim “Duff” Duffield, president of ORS Board of Directors, provided a short recap on how the crusher moved from an idea, to a “what if”, to research, to fundraising, and finally to the decision to make it all happen. Pete Moe, ORS Executive Director, singled out several people who were especially helpful in making the glass crusher a reality.

One of the highlights for all attending was the recognition of two Orcas Island Elementary School students. Audrey Hance and Lana Sasan, 4th graders in Jennifer Johnston’s class, both suggested the winning name for the glass crusher. Dressed in orange vests, they dropped the drape to reveal the name “Big Blue” as depicted on a sign made by local artist Brook Meinhardt. After the guests all drank a toast to Big Blue, the two girls moved to the control panel where Pete Moe showed them how to start the crusher. And with that, Big Blue was in operation for the first time.

The ability to crush glass–bottles, jugs, jars, and window glass and mirrors–means that we will no longer need to transfer a recyclable commodity, that has little to no value, off the island. Local contractors and construction companies can use all the glass that is crushed. “We know what it can do now, but we still don’t know all the possible applications,” says Moe. “This is an exciting step for us, and we now look forward to the construction and activation of our baler complex in 2022.”

ORS received a grant in 2021 to buy a number of plastic totes to help people move glass from mixed recycling–not a very efficient way to recycle–to separating glass. The totes make a handy and safe way to store and transport glass to the ORS recycling area. Plus, new rates for separated glass and cardboard are now in effect. If you don’t have a tote, stay tuned for how to purchase one. Taking glass out of co-mingled/mixed recycling means fewer costly trips to the mainland. Zero waste continues to be a worthwhile goal.