By Mark Vasto
When you’re in the package store business like Tom Stacey is, you tend to notice just how much glass the average Parkvillian consumes. That’s why Stacey, the proprietor of Gomer’s North was immediately interested in the idea of glass recycling at Parkville Commons when approached by Boulevard Beer president and founder John McDonald.
“Boulevard has been trying for years to get into the bottle business,” Stacey told The Luminary, explaining that the company lamented the waste of millions of bottles each year.
Make that 10 million empty Boulevard bottles per year – in addition to the 150 million pounds of glass that heads straight to the landfills because of the lack of glass recycling in the area. Thanks to the efforts of community volunteers like Kendall Welch and Deffenbaugh Industries, recycling is an option for most Parkville residents but the company does not accept glass.
“Kansas City businesses use over 100 million pounds of recycled glass every year (imported from around the country), so why almost no local recycling? Because there was no nearby facility to process the glass,” McDonald explains. “And why no local processor? Because, in classic chicken-and-egg fashion, there was no local recycling. The result? No economically viable alternative to the landfill.”
To meet the need, McDonald founded Ripple Glass, a glass recycling program with 60 collection bins around the metro area to collect used glass containers. The company is presently constructing a state-of-the-art processing facility, where those containers will be converted into pure, ready-to-use recycled glass. Local companies can then reuse it to make environmentally friendly products, including fiberglass insulation, saving enormous amounts of energy and raw materials.
“I thought, Parkville should get in on this and maybe the parking lot across from Gomers [behind the MidContinent Library] would be a good spot for it,” Stacey said. “So I called [Parkville Commons Property Manager] Tony Borchers and floated the idea past him.”
For aesthetic reasons, Stacey said he could understand if Borchers wasn’t too keen on the idea, but he was wrong. The National management company has been pushing for the use of electric vehicles and recycling for years, and once they actually saw what the receptacles looked like, Borchers gave it the go ahead.
Of course, there are economic benefits to having the receptacle at the Commons: more visitors. Ripple Glass claims that nationwide studies have shown that 25 percent of area residents frequent stores based on convenient glass recycling.
To make their trip easier, Price Chopper will begin selling plastic purple bins for $4.99, a way for residents to conveniently separate their glass from other garbage and recycled material.
Nearby Riverside is getting into the act, too.
They recently entered into an agreement with Ripple Glass to place a glass recycling drop off container on the civic campus. The container will be available in November and will be one of many containers located all over the metro area.
“For years residents have been looking for a place to recycle glass and now we’ll have a Ripple Glass bin right here at City Hall. This project has been a long time coming and I’m very excited to offer this in our community,” Mayor Kathy Rose said.
Stacey will handle the responsibility of “looking after” the receptacle, contacting Ripple Glass when it becomes full. The company will then send a truck to pick up the custom made, 30-yard long receptacle and return it cleaned and empty.
Stacey, also a member of the Missouri Extension Council, said he’s happy to do the job.
“It’s just a good thing,” Stacey said. “A no-brainer.”