A glass recycler and bottle manufacturer are using a new tracking software with hopes it will increase glass recycling and create awareness among consumers and businesses. Salt Lake City-based Momentum Recycling began implementing Costa Mesa, California-based End of Waste Foundation’s (EOWF) blockchain waste traceability software (BWTS) in May, followed by Wheat Ridge, Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Bottle Co. in July, which makes glass bottles for MillerCoors out of Momentum’s recycled glass.
The software allows material recovery facilities (MRFs), waste management companies and glass manufacturers to trace glass from curbside bins to new products. EOWF then uses the data to create a glass certificate with the amount recycled, chain of activity and carbon offsets, which consumers and sustainable businesses can purchase. The funds are distributed back to MRFs and glass processors to cover negative costs and investments in equipment and workforce.
“We can prove that glass that was put into the system actually became a new bottle in the process by using this technology,” says John Lair, president and CEO of Momentum Recycling. “An individual, bar or restaurant or beverage distributor that wants to support glass recycling can purchase one of these certificates and the funds generated from the sale can then be distributed to entities in the recycling loop that have negative costs, like us.”
As communities eliminate curbside glass collections and consumers are confused about where their recyclables end up, EOWF hopes to make a change in the industry. By ensuring “all the stakeholders are transparent in the transactions,” EOWF says glass recycling and diversion from landfills will increase. Lair says he believes over time the platform will result in more glass entering Momentum’s facilities in Salt Lake City and Denver, which are “under capacity.”
“It inspires confidence in the form of the public knowing their glass is getting recycled,” Lair says. “It drives awareness as well. It might inspire others to recycle. When that reward, feedback system to the consumer is available evidence shows participation is going to go up. Somebody that cares about recycling and sustainability and understands the challenges of glass recycling can help by purchasing one of these certificates.”
EOWF’s mission is to “engage the world in a shared responsibility of waste management.”
“What we are proposing is a new way of looking at the industry, a change in paradigm, which will determine a new set of actions that will create a shift in the system,” says John Stefanescu, co-founder and chief traceability officer of EOWF. “There is a lot of resistance to change, therefore, we truly appreciate their vote of confidence and commitment to the innovation.”
He adds, “It’s our goal to have traceability and transparency in the recycling system become the norm.”
Lair says the benefits of using the software are not only transparency but, if the certificate concept is embraced by consumers and businesses, it also will provide funds to recyclers and manufacturers.
Momentum collects and processes source separated glass from commercial and industrial sources in the Southwest region, as well as glass from public drop-off locations and residential curbside programs at its Salt Lake City facility. In Denver, Momentum processes single-stream glass from MRFs. In Utah, the contamination rate sits at about 4 percent compared with 10 to 20 percent contamination in Denver.
“That has a massive impact on our equipment we have to invest in,” says Lair, adding there’s one optical sorter in Salt Lake City and 10 in Denver. “It’s a massive difference in investment and maintenance and upkeep needed.”
He adds, “You have the disposal costs for the contaminants. I have fives times the disposal costs at the Denver facility just because of contamination. It’s not just the tip fees, but transportation costs. That’s a large piece of our cost structure, transporting and disposing of waste.”
The contributions for glass certificates, which will be divvied up between MRFs and processors, will help offset those negative costs, Lair says. It also helps EOWF move forward in achieving its mission to drive a circular economy and a “shared responsibility” among consumers, MRFs and manufacturers.
Rocky Mountain uses Momentum’s residential and commercial glass to make bottles for MillerCoors. By implementing the new software, they’ll now be able to show residents and businesses, including bars and restaurants, their recycled glass was used to make new products, diverting glass from landfill and reducing carbon emissions.
Following Momentum and Rocky Mountain's implementation of the software, EOWF’s role is to educate consumers, businesses and the marketplace with the data, as well as promote the certificates.
“Rocky Mountain Bottle Co. is excited to be a partner with the End of Waste Foundation in their innovative efforts to increase glass recycling in Colorado,” says Bill Dillaman, plant manager at Rocky Mountain. “As a glass container manufacturer that is looking for opportunities to increase the amount of clean cullet that we can use in our furnaces, we want to do our part to support this initiative and take advantage of the closed loop system that we have in this area.”