BETTERING YOUR COMMUNITY
In 2016, many of the haulers of Erie County, Pennsylvania, removed commercial glass collection from their services. This was followed up with the removal of residential glass collection a couple of years later. The 270,000 residents of Erie County were surprised after these announcements and were left with the decision to either stock up on all the glass and travel to a faraway recycling facility or throw them away with their other garbage. Additionally, the regional glass recycling system that once flowed smoothly was experiencing a gap in the Erie area. This is where Erie Management Group (EMG) and Prism Glass Recycling (Prism) provided a solution to save recyclable glass from the fate of the landfills.
Led by Erie entrepreneur Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III and his daughter Sumi James-Black, Prism Glass Recycling launched in 2019 under the EMG umbrella, joining HERO BX and Calypso Enterprises in the SB3 Industrial Park. EMG developed a business plan and budget needed for the necessary investments to boost the recycling system via a drop-off program. The idea was pitched to a group of local municipalities, and although hesitant at first due to a history of some Erie County drop off centers being abused as dumping grounds, EMG assured them the pilot program would tackle issues and make the necessary improvements for future growth.
Through a public/private partnership between Erie County Recycling Program, the Erie Area Council of Governments, CAP Glass Recycling, and the Glass Recycling Foundation, EMG’s idea for Prism Glass Recycling became a reality. Together, the partners agreed to begin a drop-off program throughout Erie County that allowed residents to recycle glass bottles and jars. The program not only filled the hole in the regional glass recycling system, but also acts as a model for other midsize communities looking for a way to improve or restore their own offerings.
As a key element, EMG suggested the use of a Switch-N-Go® interchangeable hoist truck system, a versatile and affordable solution for the program.
For over two decades, Switch-N-Go® has been providing solutions to businesses that want a work truck that can do more. The interchangeable truck body solution has advantages over hooklift and permanent mount units. With hoist systems available in electric-over-hydraulic and full hydraulic, as well as nearly 30 different work truck bodies, Switch-N-Go® offers endless opportunities to maximize investment and optimize the workday.
EMG contacted Switch-N-Go® Authorized Dealer, John May, to see if they could get custom drop boxes made for the recycling program. John connected them with Switch-N-Go® Product Manager Russ Wallace to discuss the custom design for the bodies Prism needed and how to integrate that solution, starting with a base Switch-N-Go® Body design.
Wallace did just that with custom built glass Recycler Bodies. The Recycler Body is a combination of the popular Switch-N-Go® Drop Box, manufactured 1.5 foot narrower with a Gambrel style roof featuring sliding lids designed to fit in a space as small as a parking spot. With the bright blue paint, EMG’s marketing design team and the local decal specialist, Ron Avaira with Avaira Signs, Switch-N-Go® helped Prism make sure that anyone looking for a glass recycling container could easily find one.
The pilot program was officially launched in January 2021 with the Switch-N-Go® Recycler Bodies placed at 15 locations in and around Erie County, including near popular destinations and on collaborating municipal properties. Prism keeps an additional empty Recycler Body as a “switcher” to use when a location is ready for a turn.
The excitement of the community was recognized right away, with several locations seeing residents drop off the bottles and jars that were being stockpiled for months, if not years. Some Erie residents would push through the several inches of snow in the first few months of the program to recycle their glass.
As promised in the partnership, Prism has taken the precautions of monitoring the placement of the containers to ensure that they are being used for their intended purpose – glass container recycling. They have even taken the initiative to find alternative locations for a couple of the drop offs that were experiencing contamination issues. The addition of in-dumpster cameras set up in each container has allowed Prism to monitor these issues, as well as fill levels to determine when the containers need to be emptied. One high-volume location has a standard 2-week turnover time, while others need to be emptied every 3-6 weeks.
A hauling contract with local company Pro Waste Services ensures that when full, the Switch-N-Go® Recycler Bodies are exchanged for an empty one and driven to the Prism consolidation bunker. At approximately 2 tons each, it takes at least 13 inbound loads until Prism is ready to send the bottles and jars to CAP Glass Recycling, a regional processor in Mt. Pleasant. CAP transports 25 tons per load and processes it into furnace ready cullet to supply the four glass container manufacturing plants in the Commonwealth.
Prism was happy to announce that over 500 tons of glass have been diverted from landfills back into the region’s glass container manufacturing plants since the 2021 launch. As such, four more locations have been added for a total of 19, with the potential for additional Switch-N-Go® Recycler Bodies at even more locations throughout the area.
Switch-N-Go® is honored to be part of this project and can’t wait to see the continued growth and success of bettering a local community.
Below: Prism’s in-dumpster cameras allow monitoring