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Crushing it: Local man begins free glass recycling program

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Sep 4, 2020

Clarence Pharr's horse shoe pits lie ready for use on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Last October, Shepherd University Facilities Management Director Jim King received a $17,305 Recycling Assistance Grant from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan.

The grant covered the cost of starting a new initiative at Shepherd University — a glass recycling program. It provided just enough money for King to buy the two machines necessary to start the program, a GLSand compact glass bottle crusher and sifter.

“The glass crusher was $7,000 and the sifter was $10,000,” King said. “The grant has been going on for environmental protection, recycling and sustainability for many years. I applied for it once before, at my previous job in Charleston, which is how I came up with the idea.”

King had hoped to get the program started while Shepherd University was in session last spring, but the school’s COVID-19 closure happened right when he was ready to begin it.

“Almost to the day when I got it up and running, school had shut down,” King said, referring to the glass crusher.

According to King, the GLSand compact glass bottle crusher is used throughout New Zealand — individual restaurants have crushers on-site, to recycle the beer and wine bottles they empty. The sand is then dumped onto their beaches.

“[The glass crusher] was invented by a person in New Zealand, because the beaches in New Zealand were eroding,” King said. “Like everyone else, the people there were drinking beer and wine out of bottles, and the inventor thought that it would be the perfect way to meet that need.”

While there may be no eroding beaches in West Virginia, there are other uses for the sand. The crusher is capable of creating four gradations of sand, which can be safely used in art, landscaping, ice making, golf course bunkers, pool filtration systems, sand boxes, horse shoe pits, high-end sand blasting and concrete.

This summer, King reached out to his fellow residents in the Willowdale subdivision outside of the Corporation of Shepherdstown, asking for them to begin recycling their emptied glass containers with him. King has also been picking up, with the Corporation of Shepherdstown’s permission, 10 containers of glass recyclables from the receptacles on German Street once a month. With Shepherd University now reopened, King will also begin crushing glass waste created on campus.

“This program gives people outside of the city limits the opportunity to recycle their glass,” King said, mentioning there is no other local way to recycle glass, since Apple Valley Waste discontinued its glass recycling program.

Community members who need sand are encouraged to contact King, who is giving it away for free.

“I can’t make money off of it, since the sand is made by machines bought with the grant money,” King said, mentioning two of his neighbors have asked for his fine-grade sand — one for a sandbox and the other to fill horse shoe pits.

“I noticed that some of the uses for the recycled sand in the finest gradation was for use in horse shoe pits,” said Clarence Pharr, of Shepherdstown, referring to an email King sent out regarding the sand’s potential uses. “As it turned out, I had gotten a nice set of horse shoes for Father’s Day. I was thinking of putting in pits, and Jim gave me some of the sand. This sand is really, really fine. It’s really better than conventional sand, because when it rains it doesn’t get wet and sticky — it stays nice and fluffy.”

To donate glass recyclables or request sand, contact King at 304-546-5213 or jim.king.aia@gmail.com.