It gets so little respect that some communities, like Harrisburg, have stopped collecting bottles and jars in their curbside programs. It’s cheaper to leave glass in the trash and send it straight to a landfill.
Enter AeroAggregates LLC, which opened a plant in a former Eddystone locomotive factory this year, where it produces lightweight construction material from this lonely stepchild of municipal recycling programs.
“We can take Philadelphia curbside glass and make a construction product that’s going right back into the city of Philadelphia,” said Archie Filshill, chief executive and cofounder of AeroAggregates, which has sunk about $10 million into its project. “It’s post-consumer waste. That’s something that hasn’t been done before.”
The material AeroAggregates manufactures is foamed glass aggregate, which resembles crushed rock and serves a similar purpose in construction projects. It might seem crazy to manufacture stone, since there is no shortage of naturally occurring rock. But foamed glass aggregate is not ordinary rock — it weighs 85 percent less than stone, and yet is still very strong.