Photo by Kay Bailey

Select Board drops 90k removing seven-year-old 850-ton pile of glass

Kay Bailey


Print Editor


During the Select Board meeting on Feb. 12, Town Manager Scott Weden informed the board that $90,000 needed to be allocated to remove an 850-ton pile of glass, equal to 390,000 bottles of PBR, from behind the Plymouth Recycling Center that night for the town to come into compliance with a Department of Environmental Services letter of deficiency issued last January.

The Select Board first set out to deal with the great Plymouth glass pile in 2017. Originally, the plan was to grind up the glass to be used as an underlayer for paved roads but technical difficulties prevented this plan from moving forward, according to Recycling Center Manager, James Conn. The issue was not brought back before the select board again for the next seven years where trees, grass, and other natural contaminants would make disposal more difficult and more expensive.

$90,000 and 180 hours of labor later, 700 tons of contaminated glass was relocated to a facility in Scarborough, Maine, with the remainder planned to be mixed in with regular trash. Whether or not the remains will be dealt with over a similar seven-year period remains to be seen.

Weden speculated that had the glass not been disposed of, the DES would have either shut down the recycling facility or taken care of the issue themselves and invoiced the town with a bill. According to the letter sent by DES, failure to comply would have resulted in “formal administrative action in accordance with the department’s Compliance Assurance Response Policy, including the issuance of an administrative order requiring that the deficiencies be corrected and/or referring the matter to the NH Department of Justice for compliance restoration and/or the imposition of civil penalties.” 

What we know for sure is that no one inherently wanted to ignore the glass pile. Once the select board knew the specifics of this project and was supplied with sufficient reasons as to why this was the best plan for the town, they unanimously favored the project.  Weeden claims to have been in communication with the DES for the past year, looking for ways to address the glass pile, but there did not appear to have been any conversations with the rest of the board until they needed to sign the check.