frequently asked questions
Recycling is a fairly simple topic. But when you throw glass into the mix, the questions start flying. So, here are the answers to some of the most common ones we’ve heard. Click on the plus sign by the questions that interest you.
Why isn't glass collected in curbside recycling programs?
The short answer – glass breaks. And when it’s mixed with other recyclables, broken glass degrades and contaminates those materials, reducing their utility and causing them to be discarded or “downcycled” into lower-quality products. What’s more, in most curbside programs in which glass is collected along with other recyclables, up to half of the collected glass is unsalvageable, and ends up in the landfill. This leaves two options: sorting and segregating glass in existing recycling trucks, or running dedicated routes for glass. In both cases, the costs can potentially outweigh the value of the material, making curbside pickup an economically challenging proposition. Collecting glass separately like Ripple does results in an up to 98% recovery rate.
Do you guys offer tours?
Currently, we do not. Ripple Glass’ processing plant is a heavy industrial environment, and we have a very small staff. You might be interested in this video
which provides an behind-the-scenes look at how we process glass!
Do I have to rinse the containers?
Well, that would be nice. But it’s not essential. You may, however, decide that rinsing the containers keeps your home or garage smelling a bit fresher.
Can I put Pyrex or coffee mugs in the bins?
Ripple Glass cannot accept Pyrex, Corning ware, ceramics, dishware, or ham sandwiches. We can accept all glass food and beverage containers of any color (including mason jars and glass drinking vessels such as wine glasses).
Can I put windows or shower doors in the bins?
Sometimes. If the frames are removed, it’s probably okay. We cannot accept glass that is laminated (think windshields), or safety glass that is designed not to break. When in doubt, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Why doesn't Boulevard take back their used bottles and refill them?
Great question! Boulevard distributes its beer in more than 30 states. No mechanism exists to collect the 40+ million bottles sold each year. Even if it did, the costs – and environmental impact – of transporting all those empty bottles back to Kansas City make the proposition impractical, and distinctly un-green. (That’s before considering the need to clean and sterilize the bottles to make them fit to reuse, a process that would use enormous amounts of energy and generate large streams of effluent.) And last but not least, a solution that involved only Boulevard bottles would leave the vast majority of glass generated in the KC area unaccounted for, and destined for the landfill.
How do you create a useful product out of what used to be waste material?
Put simply – hard work and technological wizardry. Check out this video, or read below for more detail:
It all starts with you and your neighbors, depositing empty glass bottles and jars into those strikingly handsome purple collection bins. When a bin gets full, a local company picks it up, brings it to our processing plant, and dumps it into our receiving bunkers. Our operators feed the glass onto a conveyor, where it goes through a number of stages: decontamination (removal of all large non-glass materials), an initial crush to reduce whole containers into smaller pieces, drying, optical sorting to remove small contaminants and separate colors (the wizardry part), grinding and screening (guaranteeing size distribution matches customer specifications). The finished material – furnace-ready cullet – waits in silos to be loaded into trucks for transportation to our customers’ nearby facilities.
What is glass cullet?
Glass cullet is the fancy term for glass that is cleaned, crushed and ready to be processed into new products including glass containers, fiberglass, reflective paints, abrasives, aggregates, and more. At Ripple Glass, we turn your recycled glass containers into cullet for a number of local customers, most notably Owens Corning, which uses it to make fiberglass insulation, and Ardagh, which turns it into new glass bottles, including those used by Boulevard Brewing Company.
Can you help me recycle at my event?
Provided enough notice, yes. We can loan out small bins for glass collection with 2-3 weeks minimum notice. For major events, please contact us at least 2 months prior to the event to discuss needs. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details!
don’t see your question?
No problem. Just contact us and we will get back to you soon.