Did you thoroughly rinse that empty bottle of Louisiana hot sauce before you tossed it into the recycling bin?
Did you drain every drop of Lightly Sweetened Cherry Pomegranate Tea before putting that Snapple® bottle into the blue bucket?
Are you totally, absolutely, 100% sure?
Because if not, you may be responsible for an eco-catastrophe in Attica, New York, a little burg about 30 miles east of Buffalo. That’s where Hillcrest Industries collects recycled glass and grinds it up. The colored stuff is sold as a sandblasting agent, and the clear stuff becomes beads in the reflective paint used for road markings. Hillcrest started taking recycled glass about two-and-a-half years ago. They now have a pile of it estimated at 60,000 tons.
That’s right: 60,000 tons.
And all it takes it a few lazy bastards like you leaving some foam at the bottom of a PBR and BOOM! the Hillcrest pile becomes an enormous bio-reactor wafting a putrid stench over the hapless souls of Attica.
Matt Surtel of The (Batavia) Daily News has been all over the story:
“Once the warm weather came and we were able to open our windows, then we’re really affected by it,” said Julie Huber, who lives on Georges Drive with her husband Jeff and their family. “There are days we can’t open our windows because it smells like rotting garbage.”Hillcrest Industries is baffled by this totally unexpected malodor problem. Really, who could have predicted that the dregs in 60,000 tons of glass bottles would, you know, smell bad? The company has hired an environmental consultant; they’ve tried a deodorizing chemical, a venting system, a blower system, and another odor-counteractant product. As Surtel reports, “it’s a trial-and-error process.”
“It’s terrible,” [Attica Trustee John] Perry said. “Some days, depending on how hard and where the wind’s blowing, it’s horrendous. I’ve got calls from some people who say it’s making their kids physically sick and nauseous.”
Attica residents have held town meetings to complain, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued the company a violation notice. Meanwhile, Hillcrest has announced it will bring in no more recycled glass, and will grind up the pile it currently has on hand, a process that it expects will take 18 months, and which residents say is too long.