The yearly need in Ohio for up to 295,000 tons of recycled glass to meet a demand by manufacturers in the container and fiberglass industries has Rumpke Recycling asking for more.
“We cannot get enough good glass,” David Schwendeman, Rumpke’s recycling marketing manager, said. “It can come from homes, restaurants, bars - basically any glass container or bottle that you would put in the refrigerator.”
About 90 percent of all used glass in Ohio ends up in a landfill. While 110,000 tons of recycled glass is used per year, that’s an estimated 165,000 to 185,000 tons less than the potential demand, according to a 2011 study for the state by Vermont-based DSM Environmental.
Glass manufacturers took their need for more reclaimed glass to state officialsto look for solutions, Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally said. They also opened discussions with Rumpke, which had a limited glass recycling operation.
The state responded with a nine-month study that examined recycling in Ohio and focused on ways to improve it.
Historically, the state’s recycled glass — called cullet — had not met standards for large users like Owens-Illinois, a Fortune 500 company with a facility in Perrysburg that specializes in container glass products.
In 2011, the then Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Recycling and Litter Prevention (now part of the Ohio EPA) awarded Rumpke a $500,000 grant to aid in development of a more than $4 million recycled glass treatment center at 1300 E. Monument Avenue in Dayton. The investment paid for technology and machinery to separate, clean, dry, sort by color and grind glass into a sand-like quality.
Rumpke’s once outdated facility in Dayton now has the capability of providing up to 40,000 tons of ground glass annually.
“We wouldn’t have made the investment if we didn’t feel the market was there,” Schwendeman said.
The state also facilitated an agreement that enabled Rumpke to sell recycled glass to Owens-Illinois and to expand sales to Johns Manville, a Berkshire Hathaway insulation company with a plant in Defiance, Ohio.
Joe Moto, a business leader for Johns Manville, said expanding Ohio’s glass recycling capability was “in all our best interests.”
Using recycled glass not only reduces waste going into landfills, it also cuts manufacturing energy costs.
“Glass is mostly made of sand and other chemicals,” Moto said. “It takes less energy to turn glass into glass, then sand into glass.”
Glass recycled at the Dayton facility could end up as Johns Manville insulation in a commercial heating/cooling system.
“The state of Ohio has a unique opportunity working with businesses like ours to make sure glass that is put in curbside bins gets recycled,” Moto said.
Recycling glass can be as easy as depositing it in your curbside recycling bin, or Rumpke will buy it at it’s Monument Avenue recycling center. Ceramic and plate glass are not accepted.