Successful Glass Recycling with Ripple Glass

Article by Josh Boyer, Ripple Glass & IRA Board Member, February 2021

At Ripple Glass, we have found many recycling centers and municipalities have trouble finding an effective way to recycle glass. Some communities include glass in their commingled recycling or even request residents throw their glass in the trash. The key to successful glass recycling is source-separated collection.

Source-separating is crucial for the value of glass because manufacturers are looking for a high-quality material to substitute for virgin inputs. When glass is commingled with the other materials, it is difficult and  expensive to clean up, thereby losing value. Collecting glass separately ensures the glass stays clean and free of contamination. Additionally, when glass is co-mingled with other materials, it breaks and blends with the recyclables. This can cause contamination of other commodities which lowers the quality and value across materials.

For the past ten years, Ripple Glass has implemented and advocated for drop-off collections for source-separated glass recycling. Communities we work with have found that convenient drop-off locations near or at where they purchase glass products allow residents to combine trips to make glass recycling easy. Ripple has created a brand that associates glass recycling with good times and positive community impact. Our success has led to purple being adopted as the color for glass recycling across the country. Using slogans such as, “Giving glass a second chance,” or “Join the party. Recycle your glass,” has made recycling fun and increased community involvement.

Glass recycling plays an important role in our regional economy. Because it is heavy, it’s expensive to haul. Therefore, glass must be recycled regionally. Before Ripple Glass was founded, options were limited and it was far too expensive to take recycled glass from Iowa to the east or west coast. Recycled glass, also called cullet, is used in regional manufacturing which makes recycling glass with Ripple a critical part of our regional circular economy. The glass that is recycled in Iowa will be processed and remanufactured all within our region.

The key takeaway here is that glass is worth recycling and end-users want more! This is possible by source-separating and creating a community around recycling glass. Just remember to give glass a second chance!