It’s been over 10 months since Flathead Valley residents have been able to recycle their glass locally. Changes in the global recycling market, coupled with the high cost of transporting materials, have rocked local programs and forced the last remaining glass recycler, New World Recycling, to close up shop last November.
But one Columbia Falls man is looking to salvage local glass reclamation — albeit in a limited fashion — by hosting a series of glass recycling events in partnership with local nonprofits. Members of the public can bring their glass, sorted by color, to Flathead Recon in Columbia Falls on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Recommended donations are between 20 and 25 cents per pound — 20% of which will be donated to the recycling facility and 80% to Powdered Soul. The latter is a nonprofit that creates volunteering and entrepreneurship opportunities for kids during the summer to help them pay for their winter sports activities.
“I read that the previous operator [of New World Recycling] was going out of business and so long story short, I ended up acquiring the glass pulverizer that’s been operating in the valley,” said Dave Fischlowitz, owner of Flathead Recon. “It’s right in the crosshairs of my business philosophy of diverting good materials from the landfill.”
Flathead Recon began recycling glass in mid-July, and also conducts building deconstructions — an alternative to demolition that salvages usable materials to keep them out of the landfill. He said others considered the pulverizing machine beyond repair, but Fischlowitz with his MacGyver mentality was able to bring it back to life.
“I have a deep-seated belief in old buildings, old machines and old people,” he said. “[Glass recycling] is something that I wanted to keep alive in some way shape or form, not really knowing what that was going to be.”
He doesn’t have the capacity for curbside pickup, but hopes to hold more recycling fundraisers with area nonprofits, and has provided collection at select events, such as this summer’s Under the Big Sky Festival.
Once the glass is processed in the pulverizer, the end product is a multicolor blend of tumbled pieces ranging in size from dust particles to small pebbles. Fischlowitz said the tumbled glass bits are used by landscapers as an alternative to mulch, and by concrete finishers and road builders. He recommends that interested parties call to make an appointment to purchase the processed glass product.
“It’s my intention to package the material in five gallon buckets and make it easy for someone to purchase and apply in a landscape,” he explained.
He’s also on the hunt for a more accessible location, but in the meantime will be operating in the Columbia Falls Industrial Park, just north of Railroad Street. For more detailed directions and more information, visit www.flatheadrecon.com or email email@example.com.
Reporter Mackenzie Reiss can be reached at (406) 758-4433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.