Turning wine bottles again into sand


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After oxygen, silicon is essentially the most prevalent naturally occurring substance within the Earth’s crust. Add two components of oxygen to 1 half silicon (a course of that occurs naturally there), and also you get silicon dioxide, a core element of most rocks and sand. Warmth up that sand to about 3,090 levels, and it turns into a liquid, hardening into glass when it cools.

Although glass is derived from a naturally occurring materials, as soon as that substance is remodeled into bottles, it’s hardly a boon to the atmosphere. Every year within the U.S., folks throw away some 8 million tons of glass, a cumbersome a part of landfills that may final ages. The Environmental Safety Company experiences that solely a couple of third of glass that Individuals purchase will get recycled.

The Rotary Membership of Chelan, Washington, discovered a chance to mine a few of that cup out of the waste stream. Its 911 Glass Rescue undertaking turns used bottles and damaged glass again into sand that can be utilized in gardening, landscaping, playgrounds, and organic water filter initiatives. The membership partnered with native businesses and companies to purchase a glass pulverizing machine from Andela Merchandise. Firm President and CEO Cynthia Andela is not only a glass trade skilled; she additionally occurs to be a member of the Rotary Membership of Richfield Springs, New York. “I have been a Rotarian for years, and I have been promoting these machines for years,” says Andela. “However this Chelan membership undertaking, which unites each worlds, made me understand simply how a lot Rotary can do.”

Membership members informed us the story of how they make sand from undesirable glass.

Washington wine nation

Our neighborhood in north central Washington consists of the town of Chelan and the neighborhood of Manson, each cleaved to the shore of glacier-fed Lake Chelan, one of many nation’s deepest freshwater lakes. Along with boasting huge pure magnificence, the lake’s different principal attraction is that it is in Washington’s wine nation. Nestled between the foothills of the Cascades mountain vary and the Columbia River, the realm’s wealthy mountain soil and reasonable air temperatures create a lush valley perfect for viniculture. The lake’s shores are dotted with greater than 30 wineries and a few 300 acres of vines. 1000’s of holiday makers yearly benefit from the wines and the surroundings. And residents do their half to assist the native economic system, imbibing Lake Chelan’s wines. Our membership meets at Tsillan Cellars, which has a terrific tasting room.

The landfill downside

Residents of Chelan, a city of a bit of greater than 4,000, have been involved about what occurs to all these used wine bottles and different glass. For essentially the most half, the bottles find yourself in a landfill, as is the case all through the U.S. And so they sit there for a really very long time; authorities environmental businesses have theorized that landfill glass might take 1,000,000 years to decompose. Many municipalities throughout the nation have eradicated glass recycling in recent times for a number of causes, together with that cup shards contaminate paper and plastic recycling streams. Chelan stopped glass recycling in 2018, and lots of residents and enterprise leaders weren’t happy. Whereas the perfect environmental answer is to fabricate new glass bottles and jars from used glass, that requires a glass processing plant. Chelan is greater than a three-hour drive from the closest glass processor, in Seattle. Transporting glass that far would go away an enormous carbon footprint. That might be a part of the issue, not the answer.

The undertaking’s chief Julie McCoy, left, and Megan Clausen, an area school pupil who started making sand from a single-bottle crusher whereas she was in highschool.

A neighborhood answer

If recycling previous bottles into new ones was out of the query, there needed to be one other manner. Our membership, lengthy lively locally, was decided to seek out one. In 2020, the membership’s Protect Planet Earth Committee determined to attract on a pilot undertaking began by two superb native highschool college students, Megan Clausen and Devyn Smith. These children have been making sand from a single-bottle crusher they bought. It was a laborious operation run out of the storage at Clausen’s residence. However committee members have been impressed. If replicated on a bigger scale, this undertaking doubtlessly provided an area answer to an area downside.

Rotary connection

The prolonged COVID-19 lockdown offered ample alternative for membership members to analysis how we would upscale the pilot undertaking. This in the end led us to Andela Merchandise, an upstate New York producer of glass-pulverizing and crushing gear. Additional investigation revealed that the corporate’s principal, Cynthia Andela, was the 2019-20 president of the Rotary Membership of Richfield Springs, New York. Once we found this coincidence, we knew the partnership was meant to be.

Anne Brooks, who helps the Rotary Membership of Chelan with the undertaking, watches the glass-pulverizing machine.

Forming a workforce

We have been intrigued by Andela Merchandise’ lengthy expertise promoting its machines to small Caribbean municipalities with restricted landfill area and the necessity to import costly pure sand for his or her seashores. The Caribbean mannequin may be replicated round Lake Chelan. With this notion, 911 Glass Rescue was born. This nonprofit membership affiliate is led by a board of administrators the membership elects. Partnerships with the town of Chelan and Chelan County Strong Waste Administration, which secured a grant from the Washington Division of Ecology, offered a lot of the funding. Fifteen native wineries signed on as sponsors. With the $150,000 fundraising purpose met, the machine was quickly en route from upstate New York to Washington.

‘Folks simply hold coming again’

Our membership members helped set up the machine in June 2021, working with an Andela consultant. The operation is housed at a waste switch station in Chelan. Every Saturday morning, our membership members and native volunteers gather used glass from an extended line of arriving autos. Folks dropping off glass pay a modest price to assist defray working prices. The membership sells the top product, pulverized glass sand and combination, in buckets. Residents purchase them for landscaping, gardening and ornamental initiatives. The neighborhood undertaking fills everybody with delight of their half in rescuing all that used glass from the landfill. Folks simply hold coming again, as a result of they imagine in it.

Chelan membership member Brian Patterson unloads used wine bottles into the glass pulverizing machine

Crushing it

Our membership has dubbed the crusher Paulie the Pulverizer, after Rotary founder Paul Harris. Volunteers feed the collected glass right into a hopper. A conveyor belt transports it to the pulverizer, the place spinning hammers break up the glass because it will get pushed by way of a vortex — just like a kitchen blender. Proprietary Andela expertise rounds off the sharp edges of the glass items, making them protected to deal with. Whereas the work is labor intensive, it’s also rewarding. As of mid-September, Paulie has crushed greater than 316,000 kilos of glass — that’s the equal of about 316,000 wine bottles diverted from the landfill.

Similar to actual sand

The machine separates the top product into two sizes: combination and sand. Nonglass objects like labels, corks, and lids are deposited right into a separate trash bin. The top product is rather like the principle element of all glass: In form and substance, it’s sand as soon as once more. Completely protected to deal with, the manufactured sand runs by way of your fingers identical to mined sand. It makes a perfect mulch, because it helps water drain, repels pests, and acts as a thermal blanket in winter.

A neighborhood’s undertaking

The Lake Chelan neighborhood is solidly behind our membership’s undertaking. We advertise by way of native radio, newspapers, and social media. Our workforce employed Megan Clausen, one of many native college students who impressed the undertaking. Now a university pupil, she helps with report preserving, volunteer coordination, and social media. The broad neighborhood assist bodes properly for the long-term sustainability of 911 Glass Rescue, an concept born of Rotary. Folks needed to be part of the answer, and now we now have one.

This story initially appeared within the December 2022 situation of Rotary journal.

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