Glass recycling in the Flathead Valley has been difficult in recent years for many reasons, but one local company has been trying to change that. Using as their business mantra “Divert good materials from the landfill”, Flathead Recon is northwest Montana’s only glass pulverizing resource. Owner Dave Fischlowitz believes recycling should be done locally. After he and his partner started in the salvage and construction clean-up business, Dave saw how much potentially re-usable material was constantly sent to the Flathead County Landfill. On a road tour of communities in Oregon, Washington, and California he saw what others were doing and came home energized to try something new in Montana. In 2018, they purchased a 20-year old glass pulverizing machine.
Located north of the railroad tracks and Nucleus Avenue in Columbia Falls, you’ll find the glass recycling and reclaimed building materials facility. Dave emphasizes they are not a glass collection business, but a recycling facility. Consequently, their scope of services is different than what you would expect at the landfill. Currently, they are only taking glass during scheduled events, but Dave hopes to soon be able to continue a drop-off site for glass. In 2020, they held 2-3 events, but they hope to ramp that up to 10-12 events per year. Dave is hoping to resume events and a self-service station where customers “pay to process” their glass (current cost is $0.25 per pound, glass must be sorted by color) this spring. He also hopes to develop more contracts with local businesses for regular collection of glass.
The difficulties in making this type of business economically feasible are many. First, maintaining and keeping the pulverizer running has been a challenge. However, the biggest obstacle has been finding a sustainable market for the crushed and smoothed glass. Even though the product is safe, attractive, and firewise it is not suitable for all situations. The product comes in packages and Dave says the best uses are for landscaping in low traffic areas. The pandemic has also slowed business opportunities and made events more difficult.
Flathead Audubon celebrates and recognizes Flathead Recon for their innovative and dedicated approach to local conservation solutions. Non-profits can schedule events as fundraisers and businesses can deliver their glass on a negotiated contract basis. Flathead Recon (https://flatheadrecon.com/) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Flathead Recon also provides property clean-up and deconstruction services as well.