Cory Cullen, owner of the Flathead Valley’s New World Recycling, got his first real glass crusher on April 22, Earth Day. Before that he had been using a cement mixer loaded with river stones as the only functional glass pulverizer between Whitefish and Missoula.
The makeshift pulverizer processed two 32-gallon garbage cans full of glass in about two hours, and had no ability to separate bottle caps, corks, lemon wedges and other debris from the sand-like material it eventually produced. It was also taking a serious beating from the river stones.
His new pulverizer can process a ton of glass in two hours, removes bottle caps and other junk, and produces smooth pebble-sized pieces of glass.
“It’s very beautiful,” Cullen says of the final product. “It’s like sea glass.”
The problem that other area glass-pulverizing operations have had in the past is finding a market for their recycled glass. BFI in Missoula recently halted its glass-recycling program when its buyer pulled out. But Cullen isn’t worried about that. He plans to give it away, at least for the first year.
Once he starts pulverizing, he intends to take sample jars of the glass to his 270 Flathead customers with a list of 16 uses for it, including graveling fish tanks and covering paths between raised garden beds. Anyone interested can then buy larger quantities of the glass from Cullen.
He says he’s already been approached by people who may want to use the glass for mixing into cement countertops, as a construction material in Whitefish’s bike path and various projects in Glacier National Park, and as draining layer under local golf course greens.
He says that after one year, if he still can’t find a market for the glass, he’ll continue giving it away.
“I’m just trying to close the loop,” he says.
His goodwill seems to have come back around. Cullen says that work to help him get the pulverizer installed, including electrical work, has been donated.
Cullen says he plans on having the pulverizer up and running by May 1, and hopes to be distributing sample jars of pulverized glass to his customers soon. The possibilities, he says, are endless.