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Goodwill cuts ribbon on green manufacturing initiative

Katie Tabeling
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The Goodwill of Delaware & Delaware County cut the ribbon on a glass pulverizer machine that will help recycle the tons of glass the nonprofit receives. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

NEW CASTLE — Inside the bustling Goodwill Outlet on Centerpoint Boulevard, some of the 10,800 tons of donated clothing are sorted into bins for customers to have a chance to buy things at a by-the-pound rate.  

Some of the items, however, like glass vases and other dishes, can sit on the shelves of a Delaware Goodwill for weeks before it’s thrown out to make room for more. 

In the back room of the Goodwill Outlet in New Castle, there’s a $90,000 piece of machinery that can turn that 350,000 pounds of glass the nonprofit receives into pulverized sand. With the aid of a $1 million grant from the Truist Charitable Fund, Goodwill of Delaware & Delaware County and two other Goodwills in the region will be able to purchase glass pulverizers.

“We’ve diverted tens of thousands of gently used goods from landfills in the past, and now we’re doing the best to recycle what doesn’t sell,” Goodwill of Delaware & Delaware County President and CEO Colleen Morrone said. “We’ve partnered with the University of Delaware on watts to make usable textiles and new materials. Now, we’ve turned our attention to glass.”

Surrounded by Goodwill staff and local dignitaries, Morrone cut the ribbon on the glass pulverizer machine on Thursday, signaling that the non-profit will soon be ready to turn glass into a new product.

Glass bottles and drinkware will be fed through a chute and taken up the machine’s conveyor belt and headed through a drum that will smash it. The glass can be pulverized so small that it could easily be run through your fingers or large enough to serve as aquarium gravel or as garden decor.

Morrone said the machine opens up possibilities of selling the material to arts and crafts stores or even construction companies. With thousands of pounds of glass, the goal is to work through what’s already on hand rather than accepting recyclables from out in the community.

The grant from Truist Charitable Fund covers machines for two other Goodwills: Goodwill of Greater Washington and Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake. The funding also will help in efforts to train staff, including the 450 that work at the Delaware Goodwills, in how to use the machine and other sustainability efforts.

“The amount of unsold goods that pass through this center is staggering,” said Karl Stukis of Diamond Technologies who currently sits on the Goodwill of Delaware & Delaware County board. “This program will give our retail workers the opportunity to learn green job skills and keep on improving on a daily basis.”

For Morrone, the glass pulverizer marks another landmark in Goodwill’s mission of recycling and reuse. More than 74,000 pounds of computers and computer accessories are donated to Dell Reconnect, which uses technology after information is wiped from systems. 

With donations that usually come in plastic bags, Goodwill receives more than 100,000 pounds of plastic films, and Morrone said that the nonprofit recently started a partnership with Trex to reuse the plastic into composite decking material.

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