By Richard Uhlhorn
You can find more about the following article at the Glass to Sand Facebook page. If you would like to donate to the cause, the GoFundMe link is listed there.
Megan Clausen (left) and Devyn Smith began their Career Connection Service Project when the Valley lost its glass recycling program.
“We began our project when recycling ended in Manson,” stated Megan Clausen, a senior at Manson High School. “We were Ok with recycling in Chelan and then we lost that option too.”
It all began when the City of Chelan halted its recycling operation at the NCW Recycling Center after struggling for two years after Chelan County backed out. “They kind of left us high and dry,” said Mayor Cooney. The city opted to get back into the curb side recycling for City residents.
Unfortunately, the curbside recycling program in Chelan doesn’t include glass which leaves the entire Lake Chelan Valley without a glass recycling program.
Clausen and fellow senior Devyn Smith decided that glass recycling would be a good career connection service project that had the potential of really impacting the community. The idea for the project came when a distributor for Pioneer Group Waste & Recycling Equipment came to Manson with a small glass crusher and demonstrated it.
The girls at that point began their entry into glass crushing and named their startup “Glass to Sand.”
They made arrangements to purchase a small Pioneer Group Waste & Recycling Equipment glass crusher from a San Francisco distributor of the New Zealand manufacturer. The unit takes only one bottle at a time, but it crushed a wine bottle almost instantly into sand.
The girls purchased a glass crushing machine from a New Zealand manufacturer with the use of donations and monetary gifts through a GoFundMe page.
The bottles have to have labels removed. It takes 44 bottles to make 50 pounds of sand. To date, they have crushed 1,000 wine bottles for Hard Row to Hoe, Wine Girl Wines, North Shore Café, Radiance, Vin du Lac, the Vogue and several other wineries in the area. “We are focusing on wineries, we can’t take bottles from private people,” said Clausen.
Brett LaMar, owner of Lake Chelan Building Supply has agreed to take the 50 pound bags of sand and sell them in its garden center. “We’ve committed to selling the bags for $5 and giving the girls back $4,” said LaMar. LCBS is keeping $1 for the processing. “They got the ball rolling and we’ve given them an outlet.”
The girls have, since beginning the project, raised enough money to pay for the machine. They have donation buckets out, have a GoFundMe page, which has raised $3,050 of a $6,000 goal. The Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce donated $1,000 to the project and Clausen’s parents have also donated and set up an account at Wells Fargo Bank.
They continue to present their project to organizations and made a presentation to the Lake Chelan Rotary Club on Tuesday, February 12. “They were very excited to see and listen to the presentation,” reported Clausen. “It went really well and we enjoyed getting feedback from them.”
Senior Devyn Smith puts a wine bottle into their glass crushing machine. It takes only a few seconds to become sand and so far the girls have crushed 1,000 bottles from wineries that are participating in the project.
The girls plan on crushing glass until May, but have begun to introduce the project to juniors at Manson High School in hopes of handing it over when they graduate and head to college.
The crushing machine produces a fine sand from the glass that can be used for a variety of projects around the home and garden.
While their operation is small, it is the hope that something bigger can happen in the Lake Chelan Valley regarding glass recycling. Clausen and Smith have met with Mayor Cooney and he is very supportive of their efforts.
The City is working with Chelan County to reopen the recycling center to take glass. Under the proposed plan, Valley residents would be able to drop off glass and then the County would transfer it to a recycling center. “If we can get the County on board it would be good,” said Cooney. At this point the County seems unwilling to enter into a hauling agreement. “We are trying to get it done by Earth Day,” said Cooney.
Public Works Director Jake Youngren said that the City took it upon themselves to haul all the recycled glass they had stored at the old recycling plant to Seattle. “We made three or four trips but the hauling cost exceeded the money from the recycling plant,” said Youngren. “We need some support.”
One of the ideas being considered is to have residents pay for dropping off glass at the recycle center to help pay the costs of recycling.
Glass is one of the truly recyclable products. Crushed glass can be reused again and again to make a variety of products from fillers in concrete to new bottles.
The European Federation of Glass Recycling had 42 companies recycling glass and 82 glass processing plants that generated €508 million Euros. Sweden has 5,000 collection stations alone and has a recycling rate of over 95 percent which is financed by levies of 0.02 to 0.3 geks per bottle imposed on manufacturers of glass products. Revenues are also generated by selling glass collets to glass manufacturers.
The market for glass recycling is booming and glass collection is in vogue.
Congratulations to Megan Clausen and Devyn Smith for their efforts to not only crush glass, but to educate the public to need to recycle glass instead of having it end up in a landfill.