The Walla Walla Valley is home to 120 wineries—and no glass recycling. It’s been a sore subject among residents for decades, and one that many people have tried to solve.

Enter Ground2Ground Glass. Owner Chris Lueck, who retired in the Walla Walla Valley a few years back, processes 600 pounds of wine bottles into glass sand every week during the busy tourist season. He estimates that over 10 tons of glass were diverted from the landfill last year alone

“With climate change and covid, we’re in a unique situation where if there’s going to be monumental change to what was status quo – this is the time to make those changes,” Lueck said. “It’s time to rethink our methods.”

Photo courtesy of Ground2Ground 

The glass bottles are put through a special machine, and are pulverized down to clean sand similar to playground or beach sand. The glass sand is then put right back into the community through landscaping projects, pathways, driveways, into gardens and more.

Pathway at Woodward Canyon Winery, made out of glass sand. Photo courtesy of Ground2Ground.

“Having an outlet now in the valley to repurpose and reuse the spent glass that the Walla Walla Wine Community has long been throwing away gives me chills,” said Andy Slusarenko, Assistant Winemaker/General Manager of Three Rivers Winery. “It’s such a cool project and so long overdue.” 

To remain compliant with the Department of Ecology, Ground2Ground is focusing on wine bottles only—or one stream of glass—for the time being. Ground2Ground Glass is currently working with 15 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, though Lueck would love to move the operation out of his garage and into a larger space to accommodate more wineries.

“There’s a lot of energy behind this right now,” Lueck said. “We need to do things differently, and if we can start with the wine industry here in the valley, why couldn’t that spread to all the AVA’s? Let’s start thinking outside the box here.”

If you’d like to help expand this project into Phase 2 to include more wineries and a wider reach, you can learn more here.

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