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Goodwill of Delaware unveils glass crusher machine. This is how it works

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Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware Counties has unveiled a new machine that turns glass into sand, replenishing a depleting resource and saving hundreds of thousands of pounds of landfill waste.

Three Goodwill stores will now use a glass crusher to recycle donated glass deemed unsellable by the stores. The Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County, Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake and the Goodwill of Greater Washington will be the recipients of the company’s new initiative, with grant funding from Truist Bank.

An unveiling event took place May 23 at the Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County, located at 400 Centerpoint Blvd. in New Castle.

How does the machine work?

An estimated 350,000 pounds of glass donated to Goodwill in Delaware ends up in the landfill at some point.

“In most stores, glass is broken and cannot be recycled or is not sold in the store,” said Colleen Morrone, CEO of Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County. “We previously put it in the landfill. But now we take glass here and we can do something different with it.”

The glass pulverizer, aptly named Sandy, is capable of imploding glass shards and converting them into soft sand or gravel that can be further reused for other uses. The $86,000 machine can accept up to 1.5 tons of glass and convert it to its original shape.

Three branches of Goodwill stores received the $1 million grant from the Truist Charitable Fund to pay for the machines themselves and for sustainable staff training. Morrone estimated that approximately 1,500 employees will be trained in how to use the pulverizer, while also expanding their general knowledge of sustainability.

“We can train all our staff across all our stores and operations centers on sustainability issues, how to be better stewards of the environment and learn how to bring sustainability into the workplace so they can use it both at work and at home .” Morrone said.

Too much glass, too little sand

Not everything donated to Goodwill can be resold or reused. In fact, a large portion of Goodwill Delaware’s 550,000 annual donations end up in landfills.

The organization has already begun efforts to reduce textile waste by working with the University of Delaware’s Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies to recycle the fibers from unused garments.

According to a 2022 United Nations report, sand is the second most used natural resource in the world, after water. It is also being used at an increasing rate of 6% per year, a rate that could become unsustainable.

For coastal states like Delaware, which are particularly sensitive to sea level rise, sand is used extensively in coastal restoration projects and erosion control around coastlines. Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control oversees dozens of projects each year to restore shorelines with the sand they need to protect nearby infrastructure.

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There are also several dredging projects underway to collect sand from the ocean and use it for shoreline control. Morrone hopes this can be one of the ways the new sand pulverizer machine can benefit the local community.

“We have a lot of beaches here in Delaware, so we’re looking at all our options and trying to find the best for us here to make Delawareans feel good about donating to Goodwill,” Morrone said.

The sand and gravel created by the glass pulverizer can also be used for construction, landscaping, mulching and horticultural projects.

Molly McVety covers community and environmental issues in Delaware. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @mollymcvety.

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