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Glass is 100 percent recyclable, can be recycled endlessly, has many uses

Coeur d’Alene Glass Recycling Company, a nonprofit organization, has taken up the slack left because the Kootenai County recycling program does not include glass.

Darla Kuhman shows cullet, crushed glass, that has varied uses.

An article by the Kootenai Environmental Alliance (KEA) on the company’s Facebook page reports that 75 percent of glass ends up in landfills and Coeur d’Alene throws away about 250 tons of glass a year.

Ben Mello, his family and other volunteers founded the company in 2012 to reduce the amount of glass thrown into the local landfill. When the Mellos were no longer able to keep it going, Darla Kuhman, former mayor of Athol, took over in January 2015.

She immediately learned a surprising fact: “No one knows we’re here.  The city of Coeur d’Alene didn’t even know we existed!”

The company operates on a membership basis.  Participants donate $120 a year to recycle their glass. 

Since Darla took over, she has worked to increase the membership base to make the company self-sustaining.  She needs a minimum of eight members joining or renewing their membership each month to pay the bills.  She’s almost there.

In return for membership, participants are able to make use of the ground glass cullet or aggregate. 

Recycling glass is done by crushing it into “cullet,” which has no sharp edges.

Darla keeps a notebook at the recycling plant filled with ideas for how to use the glass. 

It makes landscaping material, countertops, substitute for sand on beaches, sandblasting material and numerous other items.  It can be used in fiberglass insulation and new glass containers.

Glass is 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly, she said.  Using recycled glass creates 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution than creating glass from raw materials, according to a KEA posting on Facebook.

Darla is searching for from half an acre to one acre of land with a small building in order to expand what the company can offer.  The building will house equipment.  She plans to build landscaping bins to store the cullet.

Volunteers are needed to help with various tasks including sorting glass, grinding it and grant writing. 

She hopes to train people in various ways to work with the cullet and new projects to bring members together to build community by helping each other and improving the area.

Darla’s passion for recycling has roots in her Christian background, even though she’s not currently active in a church.

“It’s a program that reaches out to everybody,”  she said.

“It’s not just glass.  It’s about community.  It’s not just a dream.  It’s a possibility,” said Darla, who feels called to recycle as a way to create community as well as help the environment.

“It’s a first step in creating new community and ecological habits,” she said. 

She believes in being a pioneer to make something happen.

The company is open from 8 a.m. to noon, first and third Saturdays at 600 Clayton Ave., Suite 3, in Coeur d’Alene. 

Rules help keep the company running. Darla reminds people who drop off the glass to clean the bottles and jars because the crusher gets clogged when sugar and sauce build up.

For information, call 208-661-6252 or email  The Facebook page is Coeur d’Alene Glass Recycling Company.

Copyright © October 2016 - The Fig Tree