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Making a case for glass

November 2, 2020

Why is glass one of the most undervalued commodities in the stream?

By: Curt Bucey, Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer, Strategic Materials

The benefits to recycling glass are endless—it is the only recycling commodity that is 100 percent recyclable, and it can be continually recycled with virtually no loss. It displaces virgin materials by up to 95 percent in new beverage containers, and one ton of CO2 is reduced for every six tons of recycled glass. It extends the life of furnaces for container manufacturers, is chemically inert and ocean-friendly; the list goes on. If municipalities, material recovery facilities (MRFs), secondary processors, and manufacturers work together, we can keep glass out of the landfill where it does not belong.

As a leader with decades-long experience in the glass industry and an executive at Strategic Materials, Inc., the largest glass recycler in North America, I’ve seen firsthand how positive opinions about recycling glass have declined over time. Speaking as a businessperson and steward for the environment, I think it’s imperative to clear the air about some common glass recycling misunderstandings, or myths, as I prefer to call them.

In my session, “MRF Recycled Commodities and Demand Innovations,” I’m going to address the myths about glass and its recyclability. I’ll discuss the main drivers of contamination at MRFs, how they drive down the value of glass, and how investing in glass clean-up equipment can make MRFs money. I’ll also explain how a cost accounting approach validates keeping glass in a stream if it’s under consideration for removal. Finally, I will address the safety and cost of processing glass and the available end markets that are looking for more recycled glass than what’s available.

I hope to strike a chord with MRF operators who may recommend that their local municipality consider removing glass from their single-stream curbside programs. There is a disconnect between those of us in the circular economy of glass—the system is in chaos and people are trying anything they think will help, but they are relying on old, incorrect, or incomplete economic analysis. Sometimes myths have stronger traction than economics and without a shared standard by which to judge against, decision makers are unable to form their own opinions. It’s up to us as recycling ambassadors to work toward solutions that benefit glass recyclers, MRFs, and municipalities.

Join me for my session, “MRF Recycled Commodities and Demand Innovations,” on November 19 at 3:15 p.m. EST. Register for the MRF Summit at https://mrfsummit.org/.

About the Speaker

Curt Bucey’s extensive experience of over 30 years in the glass and glass recycling industries range from time in glass container manufacturing and sales, to purchasing, operations, and sales of cullet from all types of suppliers and customers. He was integral in the expansion of the Strategic Materials Glass Division from 10 to over 40 locations and was part of the team that spun off Strategic Materials from a NYSE company into a private equity backed business.

Curt joined Strategic Materials in 1993. He has had many leadership roles at Strategic Materials including President, Glass Division & Chief Operating Officer: Chief Commercial Officer: Vice President of Sales and New Product Development; and General Manager –Central Region. Prior to joining Strategic Materials, Curt was employed by Anchor Glass, one of the Glass Division’s top ten customers and held many different leadership roles.

Curt has been a member of several private and nonprofit boards, including the National Recycling Coalition. Curt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Purdue University. Curt, and his wife, Maura live in Houston with their five children.

 

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