Business

Kansas City’s Ripple Glass Revolution

Ripple Glass is challenging the notion that recycling glass has to be difficult.

It is no surprise that local brewery Boulevard Brewing Company uses a lot of glass. But it might be surprising to read that Kansas Citians go through 80,000 tons of glass a year, and most, if not all, of that glass used to end up in landfills. That is, it did until Ripple Glass, a recycling and waste management company, came along in 2009.

“It was difficult to find a place to take glass at that time. Plants used to be much too far away to be convenient,” Stacia Stelk, executive director of Ripple Glass, says.

Now, Ripple Glass is in more than 100 locations, collecting 20 percent of the glass that used to go into landfills. These growing numbers are a testament to the need the glass recycling company filled within the community.

“People were frustrated back in 2009 because they could recycle everything but glass. Access to glass recycling was not convenient, so we eliminated the inconvenience,” Stelk says.

There exists today an industry trend, which Stelk calls the 20-60-20 trend. Twenty percent of people today are recycling everything they can, including glass. Sixty is the percentage of people who recycle but do not recycle glass. Finally, the 20 percent that completes the trend represents people who, for whatever reason, do not and most likely will not recycle. Stelk and the team at Ripple Glass are determined to get to the 60 percent who already recycle to start recycling glass.

“We have been sending people into neighborhoods placing flyers at houses that have recycling bins sitting out. We want to inform them about the convenient glass recycling locations we provide, since they already recycle,” Stelk says.

In addition to basic community outreach, Ripple Glass is venturing back to its roots—providing a solution to a local brewery’s glass output—by interacting with local restaurants in hopes that many more will choose to recycle glass. Combined, each dinner service at restaurants contributes largely over time to the 80,000 tons of glass in landfills.

“We are also working with communities outside of Kansas City, like Omaha, to help provide a glass recycling service for them. In terms of glass recycling, Omaha is what Kansas City was five years ago,” Stelk says.

Recycling glass is a frustration of the past as Ripple Glass has eliminated the excuse not to do it. Find a convenient Ripple Glass location at rippleglass.com. 

Photos courtesy of the Ripple Glass website.