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Best Green Business 

Ripple Glass

When Boulevard Brewing Company asked an environmental group to assess the beer maker's Earth-friendliness, one black mark made plant engineer Mike Utz feel guilty. The company was selling nearly 40 percent of its suds in the Kansas City area, and about 8 million of those empty bottles were going directly into the landfill every year. Utz wondered why local trash collectors make it so difficult to recycle the clear stuff and discovered an easy explanation: The closest glass-processing facilities are in distant St. Louis and across the border in Oklahoma. So Utz and several other eco-minded entrepreneurs stepped into that gap in the recycling chain. Starting this fall, their new company, Ripple Glass, will sort, clean and grind down those old beer bottles and sell the coarse sand to area fiberglass manufacturers. There's a payoff for beer guzzlers, too. Once Ripple is up and running, it will deploy glass-recycling containers all over town, making it far easier to keep those 8 million bottles out of the landfill. Now if only Utz could find a beer-inspired way to reverse global warming.

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