Bengaluru: Scrap collectors and raddiwalas in the city have stopped collecting glass bottles because their resale value has plummeted.
P. Hari, the owner of Sathya Old Paper Mart, Kumaraswamy Layout, informed The Observer: “The market value of glass bottles has decreased a lot in two years. Previously, we used to get around Rs 1-2 per bottle; now a kilo is worth the same money. It’s been around a year since we stopped collecting glass bottles.”
Selvie Shivan, owner of Shri Vinayaka Scrap Store, ISRO Layout, shared: “Even if we collect the glass bottles, many break when we load them on trucks. That further reduces the market value.”
“A majority of the alcoholic drinks we get are in tetra packs. Still, we stock up to 250 glass bottles a week, and the company delivery boys collect them,” said Chandru, an employee at SRR Bar and Restaurant.
Rajashekar K, General Manager, Materials, Amrut Distilleries, said: “We have gradually decreased the use of glass bottles. We don’t use reused or recycled bottles.”
Once glass is collected at a recycling facility, it is crushed, and the contaminants are removed. Then it is mixed with raw materials to colour it or enhance its physical properties. Later, it’s melted in a furnace and moulded into new bottles or jars. The flexural strength – the maximum stress in a material just before it yields in a bending test – of recycled glass is much lower than that of new glass. Owing to its relatively low value and high processing cost, much of this glass ends up in dumping yards.
Kalam Ali, manager at Stories Bar and Kitchen, Channasandra, said: “Our sales have reduced since the pandemic. Right now, we collect only 5-6 bottles a week. BBMP waste collectors collect them every week.”
Bengalurean Chandan D.N. said: “I have more than 20 beer bottles at my place. Rag pickers take only the tin cans. Sometimes even the BBMP waste collectors refuse to collect such a huge number of bottles. I have to pay them to take the bottles away.”
According to the BBMP’s Solid Waste Management Policy, glass bottles are to be segregated as dry waste. The BBMP collects dry waste twice a week. “Dry waste does not decompose, and hence it is possible for the generators to store it for a longer period. Hence, it will be collected twice in a week,” the policy says.
The website of Daily Dump, a company that offers composting solutions, says: “The recycling industry grows where the largest volumes of glass are used. For example, in Bengaluru, beer bottles are used more than other types of glass. So clear glass and beer bottles tend to be the most valuable. Once glass is coloured it cannot be changed back to clear or another colour, so it becomes less valuable. Broken crockery, broken glass and broken mirrors cannot be recycled.”
Bengaluru produces almost 6,000 tonnes of waste every day. To prevent the city from turning into a dumping yard, it is necessary to adhere to the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.