Drop-off recycling centers operated by the city of Santa Fe are beginning to reopen — and that’s going to help residents unburden themselves of waste built up during the pandemic shutdown.

One accumulation, at least if Facebook photos can be believed, are dozens upon dozens of glass bottles — beer, wine, spirits, evidence of months of drinking while people stayed at home. Glass jars likely are plentiful, too, as novice cooks bought up spaghetti sauce for those nights when they couldn’t think of what to cook.

These jars and bottles, crushed, can be made into a material called cullet, which is then mixed with sand, limestone and other materials to make more glass — and so on. Glass is 100 percent recyclable every time.

No wonder it is better to keep glass out of the dump and to reuse it in manufacturing. But with recycling stations closed and the city no longer picking up glass at the curb, residents have had to stack the bottles higher and higher or just toss them. No more.

The reopening is phased, so not all drop-off sites are accessible — yet. And we would caution that if people are careless, we doubt more sites will open any time soon. There are only so many workers to go around.

With a reduced staff and COVID-19 safety precautions, every task takes longer right now. City workers responsible for moving glass, cardboard, metal, plastic and other recyclables out of bins shouldn’t have to be sidetracked by cleaning up illegal trash or other messes. What’s more, leaving trash at a recycling site constitutes illegal dumping, and can be punished by up to a $500 fine.

Already, residents can take recyclables to the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station; that drop-off point opened in May. Now, there’s a second location, off Jaguar Drive on Lucia Lane, the city’s Environmental Services Division has announced.

Located at 4009 Lucia Lane, this recycling center is across town from the transfer station, meaning the two points can serve residents from all parts of the city. North-side residents have the transfer station near them and central and southside residents can reach Lucia Lane easily. Recycling is free, too, whether at the transfer station or a drop-off site.

While that is happening, workers from the Environmental Services Division will be updating other drop-off sites in town, improving their safety and adding signs — some in Spanish and others with information about COVID-19 protocols.

Meanwhile, Lucia Lane location has glass drop-off containers, color-coded lids for each bin and bilingual instructional signs, all new. Workers spent the months when the sites were shut down making them easier to navigate, a wise use of time and effort.

It’s not just the city that offers glass recycling, either. Santa Fe County operates eight transfer stations in different parts of the county where residents can bring glass and other recyclables. The county is so committed to recycling, in fact, that there’s a fine of up to $75 on third offense for people caught putting recycling materials in regular trash.

That’s because Santa Fe County estimates that it saved $108,000 by recycling 26 percent of materials collected from solid waste convenience centers in 2017. In an era of tight budgets, every penny saved becomes a dollar to be used for services.

With the novel coronavirus spreading and COVID-19 still with us, it’s easy to feel helpless. Small actions can make us feel more in control, and that includes eliminating clutter or making money from recycled goods. Get rid of the glass bottles and jars. It’s easy to recycle glass again.

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(2) comments

Robert Bartlett

I am assuming it will be the same police that oversaw the fireworks that will be checking my garbage for illicit bottles.

Dan Frazier

If Santa Fe really cared about recycling, it would not have closed the drop-off centers to begin with. If it really cared, it would pick up glass from homes and businesses routinely. At the very least, it would force retailers that sell glass to take it back for recycling.

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