I know, I know — you thought glass already was recycled, along with other materials. As it turns out, only 17% of Denver’s recycled glass actually gets recycled. That’s 1 out of 6 bottles, a rate that places Colorado as 49th out of all states in the country.
The glass that does get recycled becomes a product made of 50% glass, the rest a mix of other discarded materials. While glass has the potential to be a renewable resource, this mixture will go to Colorado landfills as trash, accumulating to 12,000 tons a month.
How can that be? Well, the large compactors that collect trash and recycling smash all that material in order to gather as much as possible. Glass cannot withstand the compactors and crushes into irretrievable pieces, no longer capable of being recycled.
This is why “source separation” is key. Separating materials from the beginning can have a huge impact on recycling potential, particularly for glass. Plastic and paper can be sorted after collection, but glass gets crushed into useless bits.
Clear Intentions is making this potential a reality in Denver and greater Colorado. The company, begun as a college project by Brittany Evans, seeks to fully recycle every piece of glass that comes their way by acting as a waste management service.
Brittany is joined by Todd Lehman, Damon Michaels, and Tiffany Keen, who together work with bars, clubs, restaurants and hotels in Denver to collect their mountainous glass waste.