This week, the KCDC took a trip to our local glass recycling plant, Ripple Glass. We were eager to peak behind the scenes of those purple bins we all know so well and find out how exactly the bottles that we recycle everyday are turned into new product. The tour was graciously led by friend of KCDC and founder of Boulevard Brewing Company, John McDonald. John founded Ripple Glass in 2009 as a response to Kansas Citians throwing away some 150 million pounds of glass annually, 10 million of which were Boulevard bottles. Since then, Ripple Glass has transformed the way KC recycles: in just 6 years, Ripple Glass has converted KC’s glass recycling rate from just 3% to over 20%, and that’s only the beginning.
We waded through a fog of silicon dust, ascended service ladders, and ducked our heads underneath low hanging machinery as we followed the glass' journey from the bed of a Ripple Bin truck to its finally destination: back on the trucks and off to either the bottle-making plant in Oklahoma where Boulevard bottles are made, or to local fiberglass manufacturers who will spin the newly refined glass into insulation for houses right here in Kansas City. We also learned about how Ripple Glass is using recycled glass to make counter-tops and floor tiles so nothing goes unused.
As we left the plant, covered in dust, we were filled with excitement. We can’t wait to utilize what we learned in our vision plan for a recycling system in Downtown Kansas City. Many thanks to John McDonald, and all the Ripple Glass employees, who took time out of their busy schedules to show us around.