Walla Walla welcomes glass recycling with opening of drop-off site


Walla Walla now has glass recycling, thanks to BIG Recycler's new drop-off center that opened Tuesday, June 6.  

Katie Masferrer, vice president for BIG Recyclers, described the grand opening of the Walla Walla Spoke, 240 C St., a success with an estimated 100 people dropping off wine bottles.

"We were truly astounded at the turnout," Masferrer said. "We weren’t sure exactly what to expect, and knew it could be a big day, but it was even better than we had hoped."

She said there are still some "bugs to work out" with how the recycling center works. Adding signs to help motorists pull through and drop off glass will help things run more smoothly, she said.  BIG Recyclers collected about 8,500 pounds of glass, most of which were wine bottles from Rotie Cellars, which dropped off 1,200 pounds.

"I can tell you I was thrilled that Walla Walla is taking a step at recycling glass,” said Kevin Masterman, winemaker for Rotie Cellars. “Hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”

Masferrer said the recycling center can hold eight to 10 tons before the glass needs to be transported to its hub in Pasco. She said the drop-off point is already half full.

"Now the question is whether we should expect that quantity every time, or whether a lot of that had been saved up for the first event," she said. "We hope that we continue to get a lot of participation every week."

Chris Lueck, president of BIG Recyclers, said the second spoke location under the organization is in Benton City at Hedges Family Estate, 53511 N. Sunset Road. Lueck said the collection site gathered 3,800 pounds of glass on June 6. The Benton City spoke is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays.

Lueck said BIG Recyclers is also considering opening another glass drop-off location in Prosser because there is a large number of wineries there.

Although the recycling drop-off point in Walla Walla is open to the public, Masferrer said it really caters to the thriving beverage industry in the Valley.

She said the area wineries have been great in the sense they focus on sustainability while producing wine, but because of the lack of glass recycling, the packaging aspect of the wineries falls short of being sustainable.

This is where BIG Recyclers aims to fill the gap in resources to hit the target in terms of sustainability, she said.

"This will impact surrounding areas because it will take several communities working together in order to make this project viable," Masferrer said. "We are excited that Walla Walla is one of the communities leading the way."

This piece was originally published in Union-Bulletin