Ripple Glass gives broken bottles a shiny new future

andrea morrowRipple Glass was founded in February 2009 in Kansas City and has been growing and working towards a better environment ever since. Glass recycling isn’t as available as other forms of recycling, however, container glass is 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly. Recycled glass is a primary ingredient in fiberglass insulation and new glass containers.

A principal investor in the recycling company is Boulevard Brewing Company, which helped identify the need for glass recycling in the Kansas City metro area.

Boulevard sells more than 10 million bottles of beer each year and, before Ripple Glass, less only 4 percent of those bottles were recycled.

“Boulevard saw a need for glass recycling and they are very community oriented,” Stacia Stelk, Kansas City Director of Ripple Glass, said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without our investors, especially Boulevard.”

After identifying the need for glass recycling in early 2009, Ripple was able to start collecting and processing glass in the fall of that year in a facility near the Truman Sports Complex.

In keeping with local connections, 75-80 percent of the recycled glass stays in Kansas City and is used as feedstock by Owens Corning’s local fiberglass manufacturing facility. Some of Ripple’s brown glass glass is diverted for recycling to an area bottling plant which makes beer bottles, including Boulevard’s.

“It’s a great partnership. Most of Ripple’s recycled glass is remanufactured into fiberglass insulation making our built environment more energy efficient. The rest of Ripple’s glass is recycled into beer bottles!” Stelk said.

Ripple is currently working with the Kansas City Royals to create a pilot program for glass recycling for the 2017 season.

About half of the glass that goes through Ripple comes from the KC metro area, the other half comes from Missouri and surrounding states including Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and Arkansas.

In addition to bottle recycling, Ripple also provides a service to window glass manufacturers so they have a place to recycle their waste glass. A common misconception is that Ripple can recycle lightbulbs and computer and tv monitors, but they are not equipped to handle that type of recycling.

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