Total Reading Time: Approximately 6 minutes.
Michelle Goth is the Program Manager at Ripple Glass where she makes glass recycling easier for Kansas City area businesses. She assists bars, restaurants, hotels, event spaces, and other businesses to establish and to improve their glass recycling processes.
1. What is the coolest innovation that you have seen in the glass recycling industry?
Michelle: By far the coolest innovation in the glass recycling industry is the laser sorter. This machine can be programmed to identify thousands of different colors of glass. When a color is programmed into the machine, it scans all of the glass on the conveyor belt, searching for that particular color. When it finds it, it quickly blows a puff of air which pops the piece of glass onto a different belt. It has revolutionized the way that glass is recycled by allowing people to recycle all colors together. If a certain color needs to be separated out, the recycler can do so with the laser sorter. We use ours to separate out amber (brown) glass for re-manufacture into beer bottles.
2. Does glass break down in the landfills? How long does it take?
Michelle: Glass does not break down or decompose in the landfill due to the lack of organic matter. If it is forcibly broken, it may eventually resemble something like sand.
3. What else in the field of sustainability is interesting to you?
Michelle: I think the issue of food waste is very interesting. Food composting is an underdeveloped area within the recycling industry here in the United States. Missouri Organic is pretty well established here in Kansas City, but I visit other large cities where businesses have no composting services available.
I’ve read that as much as 40% of the food we purchase in America ends up in the landfill. When you consider the level of resources that goes into food production, that is pretty devastating. [Jason’s notes: quick link to How to Stop Wasting Food and 27 Ways to Make Groceries Last Longer.]
4. What are 4 things that anyone can do right now to be better at recycling?