Garden City Recycling announced on Oct. 1 that it's accepting glass, a significant step considering that the best previous option for Missoulians to recycle glass was dropping it in a bin at Target. The box store's otherwise-empty trucks haul the glass to one of its distribution centers in Oregon, where glass recycling is cost effective.
But the glass that Garden City Recycling is picking up from its customers isn't leaving Missoula. It's heading to a small corner of a warehouse near the Wye, where Gary Linton, founder of GreenCrete Products, is using the discarded glass to make landscaping pavers and other concrete products.
On a recent afternoon, Linton is standing outside the warehouse next to a grinding machine filled with glass (mostly Bayern Brewing bottles). A few feet away lies a pile of glass after it's been ground, washed and screened. It feels like coarse sand, and Linton's using that glass aggregate instead of traditional sand and gravel aggregate to make concrete.
GreenCrete's been around for a few years and growing slowly. It reached a milestone this year when it began selling 18-by-18-inch pavers at Home ReSource. But Linton's hoping to grow the business, which also sells a dry mix and other pre-cast products, well beyond the "very, very bootstrap operation" it is now.
"We're at the level now where we need to jump in and get it to market on a large scale," he says, mentioning the need for grants and investment. For example, he's looking for a concrete truck so GreenCrete can pour sidewalks and foundations. "That's what we're gearing toward," he says.
And he thinks that would be a much better way to recycle glass than Target trucking it to Oregon.
"It's not sustainable what they're doing," he says. "It's recycling, but it's not sustainability, because they're shipping it...At least everything we do here stays in this market. It's a closed loop. That's my whole pitch: What we take in here, I want to be able to sell to the consumer here."
Garden City Recycling's curbside plastic, aluminum, steel, paper, cardboard and glass pick-up service starts at $20 per month.