New York university to house Center for Glass Innovation

The center will play a role in finding recycling markets for glass, new ways to produce and recycle glass.

January 25, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced the state is collaborating with the State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York, to bolster markets for recycled glass and improve the quality of glass available for recovery throughout New York.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, the university will house the Center for Glass Innovation, which was first announced in the governor’s 2020 State of the State address, and will play a role in helping recycling markets and municipal recycling programs find new ways to produce and recycle glass.

“The College of Ceramics at Alfred University is playing a critical role in enhancing recycling markets and the overall economic revival of the Southern Tier,” Cuomo says. “This first-ever Center for Glass Innovation builds on our efforts partnering the best academic institutions with industry experts to develop strategies to make New York a cleaner and greener state. The investment will also help to ensure our students have the education and skills they need for new opportunities and jobs in the green economy of the future.”

According to the governor’s office, recycling markets are volatile and, as a result, recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material. Glass is a heavy component in the municipal waste and recycling stream and can be costly to process. The governor’s office reports that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working with stakeholders, including municipalities, to strategize on how to bolster new markets to build capacity in the state and the northeast region to address these challenges.   

As part of this initiative, the New York State College of Ceramics (NYSCC) will form the Center for Glass Innovation as a research resource for glass producers in the state. According to the governor’s office, the center will create space for basic and applied research, user facilities and experimental glass tanks for applied, industrial-scale research, with an emphasis on creating higher value end markets for curbside collected glass. The governor’s office states that this will be the first center of its kind in the United States where glass companies will be able to test small batches of new glass compositions in a pilot production environment.  

"With the launching of the Center for Glass Innovation, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University will be at the epicenter of the glass industry’s growth and evolution,” says Jim Malatras, State University of New York chancellor. “In the latest chapter in a long history of public-private partnership, the College of Ceramics—a national leader in glass science research and education—will collaborate with industry-leading private companies to develop next-generation glass materials, make manufacturing processes more energy-efficient and uncover ways to reuse glass that would otherwise be dumped into a landfill.

He continues, “Ultimately, this initiative will create more sustainable, eco-friendly communities and help accomplish Gov. Cuomo’s ambitious goal of achieving a carbon-neutral economy. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for their investment in this important research project, and New York's leading glass companies for their partnership.”

Basil Seggos, the state’s DEC commissioner, adds that the department wants to keep the state’s academic institutions “ahead of the curve” when it comes to emerging trends in recycling. “Gov. Cuomo’s investment in this center is a sign of New York’s commitment to not only providing top-notch educational opportunities to Alfred University students, but also helping to grow the highly skilled workforce that employers want and need in this competitive field.”

The NYSCC will receive about $1.7 million for this initiative through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as part of a three-year agreement, the governor’s office states. NYSCC has a reputation in the field of glass science and engineering and is the only institution in the U.S. to offer a doctoral degree in glass science.