On an island with limited space for waste and few recycling options, the Island Green Building Association is working toward bringing glass recycling to St. John with the help of donations from the community.
IGBA hopes to purchase a solar-powered glass pulverizer to operate at its ReSource Depot site, across from the Susannaberg Transfer Station at Gifft Hill and Centerline. The glass crusher will pulverize glass waste down to the size of a grain of sand, making it ideal for reuse in water filters, landscaping, concrete, and asphalt. IGBA plans to sell 50-pound bags of the pulverized glass at the ReSource Depot.
“You get a sellable product right out of the machine,” said IGBA board member Doug White. “We estimate it can process between 45 and 90 percent of St. John’s glass.”
The island’s waste is approximately 5 percent glass, accounting for 680 tons annually.
“The glass crusher would take care of a phenomenal amount of glass that gets thrown away every year,” said IGBA volunteer Kristin Hawk.
The resulting pulverized glass would be competitively priced with bags of sand sold on St. Thomas.
With St. Thomas landfills ordered closed by 2019 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the territory will need to look at creative ways to dispose of its waste, White explained.
“Glass is a reusable resource,” he said. “It’s already on the island, so transportation and shipping are not necessary, and the material is virtually free except for the collection efforts. We can reuse it right here on St. John.”
IGBA plans to collect the glass alongside aluminum can collection points that stand at many island trash bins.
In addition to reducing the amount of waste produced by island residents and visitors, the solar powered glass crusher will also benefit the island by helping to free up St. John Capital Improvement Fund money, explained White.
“Right now, shipment of our waste to St. Thomas is paid for by the St. John Capital Improvement Fund,” he said. “That money should be going toward doing projects on St. John, not being used to haul trash. The more waste we can process on St. John, the more we can free up the fund for needed improvements on St. John.”
The entire cost of the project is estimated at $76,528, and donations from the community will be needed to help the non-profit purchase the glass crusher and get it up and running. Donations are being accepted at razoo.com/story/Island-Green-Building-Association. IGBA hopes to have the glass crusher up and running within approximately one year.
“The glass crusher will be a benefit to the people who live and visit here and a benefit to the island’s environment,” said Hawk.