A grassroots glass recycling program has sprung up at Crabtree Brewing in Greeley, Colorado, thanks to a little ingenuity, a little bit of recycling education, and a long friendship between a craft brewer and a glassmaker.
Bob Kunkle is a second-generation employee for O-I Glass, one of the world’s largest glass packaging manufacturers. Bob noticed his friend Jeff Crabtree, founder of Crabtree Brewing in Greeley, Colorado, was tossing used beer bottles into the trash. He knew that if those bottles were recycled, they’d become new glass bottles. He started working to convince Jeff that recycling glass was the better solution.
It wasn’t that Jeff didn’t want to recycle. The problem: the county doesn’t support glass recycling. Together, Jeff and Bob set up their own mini glass recycling operation. News of the glass recycling program spread across the county. In less than six months, Crabtree Brewing’s glass recycling project has become an unofficial collection site for the community. People from across the area come to Crabtree to drop off glass bottles in a small trailer at the brewery.
Jeff and Bob know that when glass bottles are recycled, the recycled glass is used to create new bottles. They hope that other businesses who want to recycle glass will be inspired. Every glass beer bottle that goes back into the manufacturing process instead of a landfill is a win for glassmakers, breweries, and communities everywhere who want to create less waste and support a circular economy.