Meet a Green Business Network member company – Ripple Glass. We chatted with Morgan Henderson, the Metro Program Manager, to learn more about how Ripple has impacted Kansas City and its goals for expansion.
Founded in 2009, Ripple Glass is Kansas City’s glass recycling company. All the glass collected for recycling in the KC metro area makes its way to Ripple’s glass processing facility on Crystal Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., where it’s ground into “furnace- ready cullet.” From there, the recycled product is sold to Owens Corning, where the glass is used to make fiberglass insulation, and to Ardagh Group, where the glass is made into new bottles. Henderson mentions how, “one recycled bottle makes one new bottle; glass is unique because it can be indefinitely recyclable.”
Ripple Glass is made up of a small, yet powerful team of individuals who take on multiple roles. Henderson has worked for the company for over 2.5 years and is responsible for Ripple’s drop off program. She ensures the convenient placement, logistics, and maintenance of 100+ purple bins around the metro. She also gets to see firsthand the positive impact that recycling glass has on the local community, and beyond.
Henderson has always had a passion for sustainability. She says, “as corny as it sounds, I wanted to pursue a job that felt like more than just a job. I wanted to work with an organization that had a direct and positive impact on our world. I love the Ripple Glass mission, as well as the amazing team that makes it all run, so when an opportunity arose to work at Ripple, it was a no-brainer.”
A fun fact about Ripple Glass is that it was originally founded by Boulevard Brewing Company. Boulevard was manufacturing millions of bottles a year, and because there was no glass recycling option at the time, those glass bottles were ending up in the landfill. The company knew it wanted to be a part of the sustainability solution, rather than the problem. Before Ripple Glass, Kansas Citians threw away 150 million pounds of glass, approximately 10 million being Boulevard bottles.
Henderson mentions, “When Ripple was founded, the local glass recycling rate was right around 3%. Currently, the glass recycling rate in Kansas City is closer to 20%, but the opportunity to reach even more local communities is what really drives me. There is truly no cap within the work we do at Ripple Glass.”
Each Ripple Glass bin is picked up at a different frequency, but some bins are picked up every Monday and Friday! On average, one purple bin holds between 4 and 6 tons of glass.
When it comes to the actions Ripple Glass is taking right now, Henderson says, “Ripple continues to focus on growth. We are looking to place even more purple bins in areas of the KC metro that have previously been underserved. We also recently rolled out a curbside pick-up pilot program in Roeland Park! Our team is always aiming to expand our reach into more cities throughout the entire region as well.” The Ripple team believes there is always room for sustainable growth.
Henderson feels some of the most important tools for sustainable businesses are, “both consistency and adaptability.” She believes it’s critical to remain consistent in what is offered to the community, and what Ripple can accept from community members, but it is also important to remain flexible and adaptable within that structure. Ripple Glass measures its sustainable progress in many ways. Henderson states, “There are several metrics that measure our sustainable progress – we have goals for tons of glass collected, the number of new purple bins placed, the number of businesses who partner with us for their glass recycling needs, and the number of regional cities who partner with us to offer a convenient glass recycling option in their own communities.”
Henderson believes the biggest challenge for Ripple Glass, and many businesses in the industry, is behavior change. “It can be extremely difficult to get people to change their ingrained habits,” she says. She also believes that educating the masses is important. She explains, “At Ripple Glass, we are always looking to expand our reach and further educate communities on the benefits and ease of glass recycling. I’ve had the opportunity to add several free, glass recycling drop-off bins to areas in and around the KC Metro. I have also had the pleasure of speaking to many local businesses and schools about developing their own sustainability programs and curriculum.”
She says, “It can be easier than you think to incorporate and foster habits of sustainability. Especially if your organization already has a passion for sustainability. We’ve found with glass recycling, it’s relatively easy to get folks on board…contact us!”
The Ripple Glass team loves taking part in volunteer activities, many of which are offered by Bridging The Gap. Ripple Glass has been a member of the Green Business Network for several years now. Henderson explains, “To be associated with such a vast network of sustainable entities has had such a positive impact on our business. The Green Business Network offers education and connections to hundreds of different metro area businesses and individuals focused on improving sustainability in the workplace. We’ve found the GBN to be a vital resource and a network we are proud to be a part of.”
If you are interested in learning more about Ripple Glass or have any questions, contact Morgan Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.