This Midwest City Uses Home-Grown Resource to Boost Recycling Manufacturing

Ripple Glass Company makes use of a home-grown resource that cities see as a burden. Glass is a valuable commodity for environmentally sound production of glass containers, industrial chemicals and industrial abrasive materials.

Yet, if it is not managed properly it drives up the cost of collection and processing. In Washington, D.C., the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has argued for new respect for this material, which only amounts to 5% of the waste stream but 20% by weight of the recycling stream.

At present, D.C. uses single stream collection in which glass contaminates paper and plastic materials. The mix of materials is sent 35 miles out of town for processing. And the processing system cannot even recover usable glass. It is used as landfill cover, making the collection and processing of glass a futile but expensive effort by the city.

Glass companies like Ripple and Strategic Materials are available to work with cities and the Glass Packaging Institute is hoping to expand real glass recovery and use with partnerships with cities. Another alternative which would be ideal for the ILSR’s home city to revert back to its localized dual stream recycling system. Single stream was introduced to increase participation and recycling. Yet in DC recycling rates for glass, paper, plastic and metal has been stagnant for a decade at 20%. Of course container deposits would also generate clean glass, as well as other materials, for industry.

Read more in, Kansas City, Mo.’s Ripple Glass Finds Success in Glass Recycling published in Waste360.

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.