Glass recycling company sells landscaping 'rock'
It is estimated that it can take up to 1 million years for a glass bottle to decompose in the landfill. Yet, figures show that Americans throw away about 28 billion glass bottles and jars every year. Glass Advantage Inc., a locally owned recycling firm, is trying to do their part to encourage consumers to recycle more glass products. They're taking recycled glass that would ordinarily be headed for the local landfills, and turning it into a reusable product.
Located at 230 15th St. NW, West Fargo, Glass Advantage Inc. handles an average intake of 80 to 100 tons of glass a week. Truckloads of glass are brought in by contracted customers such as Minnkota Recycling, the cities of West Fargo, Casselton, Enderlin, Ellendale, and landfills as far away as Minneapolis and St. Paul.
According to Troy Diegel, sales manager at Glass Advantage, the glass arrives in a wide range of conditions. Some customers deliver glass pre-sorted by color and crushed into big chunks called cullets, while others bring glass in straight from the landfill with cans and bottle caps mixed in with the glass chunks. Windowpane glass is also accepted with restrictions. Color-sorted glass is the most sought-after, and brings the best price.
The crushed glass is fed into a burner with temperatures set between 420 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit; hot enough to bake the labels and debris off and sterilize the glass. The burner unit also tumbles the glass, leaving the edges of the small glass chunks smooth.
The tumbled glass pieces are then sent through a long shoot equipped with strong magnets that filter out any metal pieces. From there, the filtered glass goes into a series of crushers that crush the glass into desired sizes, ranging from course to a fine powder.
The glass media abrasives are carefully screened for accuracy and bagged in 50 pound bags or 3,000 pound bags. Several mechanics in the area order by the bag. Customers may order glass media abrasive in bulk to be shipped from the plant, or purchase smaller quantities by the bag straight from the office. Walk-in customers are welcome and encouraged to stop in and see their display.
"We probably have about 500 tons of products on hand at any given time," Diegel estimates.
In the past, the number one use for Glass Advantage's products has been sandblasting. According to their Material Safety Data Sheet, there are five standard sizes of glass products. Extremely Course size is used for pool filtration and water systems filtration. Course size is used for heavy rust, barnacles, landscaping, structural steel, tanks, and barges. It is often used as a blending stock for recycling blast operations. Medium size is used by auto body shops for finer blasting requiring a smooth, clean finish. Fine size is used for restoring cars, cleaning radiators, cleaning parts, and electrical motors. It is also used for log homes. Extra Fine is used for lighter duty fine blasting and restoration work on surfaces requiring minimal etching profile, such as aluminum or fiberglass. Powder is used for extra fine cleaning of soft metals, tile, brick, and fiberglass.
A few years ago, Glass Advantage began promoting their course size crushed glass for landscaping purposes. Tumbled glass has been gaining popularity as a landscaping material in other parts of the nation, especially in states that have been actively promoting glass recycling.
Course glass, crushed from pre-sorted glass in greens, yellows, brown or blue, can add bright, vibrant colors to landscaping edging and around trees or walkways. Clear or mixed glass is the most readily available, and is starting to catch on in the area as an alternative to crushed rock landscaping, replacing rock gardens in front of businesses, homes or lake cabins.
"It's a stunning look. Recycled glass is used for landscaping extensively down south where grass doesn't grow well. But it's extremely expensive down there. People could save money by buying it here and having it shipped," Diegel said.
Newton Davis, general manager and part-owner of Glass Advantage, says their finely crushed glass makes an excellent sand substitute in children's sandboxes.
"Our sandbox at the last Home and Garden Show got lots of interest. Kids flocked to it. It's safe and brushes right off your hands. There are no sharp edges. It's just like white sugar sand on beaches," Davis said.
While silica is a serious concern for people working with most sandblasting materials, OSHA has approved glass beads as a cheaper and safer substitute for sandblasting methods. According to Diegel, Glass Advantage products contain no crystalline silica, or heavy metals, eliminating the danger of silicosis, and making recycled glass products an environmentally smart choice for the future.
For more information about Glass Advantage Inc, visit www.glassadvantageinc.com, or call Troy Diegel at 701-277-9200.