Glass and ash into cash

(Bozeman Daily Chronicle 5-24-2012) Sustainable concrete company might start glass recycling program in Bozeman this summer. One local business expects to start collecting glass around Bozeman this summer — but not as a recycling service. 
Ecomatrix Solutions manufactures sustainable, structural-grade cement made primarily from fly ash and pulverized glass. Founder Jon Cross has worked on the cement mix for the last 12 years as part of a research project, using the alternative concrete for projects such as countertops and architectural panels.
Last year he partnered with Alexa Calio, owner of Refuge Sustainable Building Center, to market and distribute the countertops, cast-in-place floors and shower surrounds. Since then, business has mushroomed, and the two estimate they’ve gone through about 10 tons of recycled glass in the last five months. The cement made from the glass is about 50 percent glass by volume, Cross said.
“We have just been going nonstop, seven days a week, 14 hours a day,” he said. “And we’re just getting geared up. Once we’re set up we’d go through probably anywhere from two to five tons a month.”
They’ve primarily been getting their glass from the pulverizer in Livingston. But the glass there generally isn’t washed and still has the labels on. Roughly 20 percent of the glass is lost to trash, thrown out because of paper stuck to it, Cross said.
The idea to collect glass grew from a desire to make the process of recycling glass more efficient on the recycling end. They hope to do a case study for one year where a group of people “subscribes” to a program in which they wash, de-label and sort their glass by color, said Calio. She and Cross plan to collect the glass once a month as part of the program, keeping track of each subscriber’s contribution.
Every six months or once a year — they haven’t figured out a timeframe yet — the subscribers would receive an Ecomatrix cement pot or some other product for their time, Cross said. If some bring in copious amounts of glass, he figures they could get a discount on an Ecomatrix product install.
“If we’re collecting it clean, de-labeled and all we have to do is reduce it to the sizes we need, it’s saving energy, it’s savings all across the board,” he said.
The program could start as soon as two months from now.
And once the supply of glass is in place, Cross said he imagines taking on at least one full-time employee to help manage the business coming in.
“It’s really kind of our effort to make it a really kind of community-driven endeavor,” Cross said.
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