When a Ripple Becomes a Wave


By now, I’m sure everyone has seen those purple Ripple Glass recycling bins around town. I use two – one at my local Price Chopper and a second in Parkville across from Gomer’s North. I knew Boulevard Beer founder John MacDonald was instrumental is launching Ripple, and I knew John was passionate about doing right by the planet. What I didn’t know was just how much good MacDonald and Ripple have done.

So, I looked into the company and spoke to Sarah Leube, Ripple’s Program Manager. Leube blew my mind with some numbers I wanted to pass along.

  • Since 2009, Ripple Glass has recycled over 1 billion bottles and jars, which equates to nearly 200,000 tons of glass.
  • Glass recycling rates in Kansas City have gone from 5% to 20% since Ripple Glass started.
  • There are more than 100 drop-off bins in the KC metro, and the company has just set up an arm that services restaurants and bars.
  • Ripple services more than 90 communities across eight states outside of Kansas City.
  • One recycled bottle = one new bottle. Glass is 100% recyclable over and over again, never losing quality.
  • Recycling one glass bottle can power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.
  • Using recycled glass produces 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than creating new glass (or fiberglass) from raw materials.
  • It takes just 714 recycled bottles to create enough fiberglass to insulate an attic.

Ripple Glass started in 2009, though the vision for the company began several years prior. MacDonald and two other Boulevard execs were the impetus behind Ripple, seeing the need for a glass recycling company in Kansas City.

“Processing plants were no longer taking glass and Kansas Citians were throwing away over 150-million pounds of glass a year,” Leube told me. MacDonald knew a significant percentage of that glass was comprised of Boulevard Beer bottles. Ripple was formed to help keep those and other bottles out of area landfills and put them back   in circulation.

“We sell the glass to Owens Corning which makes fiberglass insulation from them, and also, to a company that manufactures root beer bottles,” Leube shared. Still, even though Ripple is a for profit company, Leube admits glass isn’t a big money maker and says the company has always been, and remains “mission driven” rather than focused on the bottom line.

I don’t know about you, but taking a billion glass bottles and jars out of landfills sounds like a pretty good mission to me.




Leave a reply