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North Charleston’s EcoGlass Surfaces countertops and more help close the recycling loop with style

North Charleston’s EcoGlass Surfaces countertops and more help close the recycling loop with style
April 2020
WRITER: 

Local recycling business makes countertops from repurposed glass





GlassEco Surfaces breaks down recycled glass bottles to create custom surfaces, such as this outdoor bar (far right).

When it comes to sustainability, GlassEco Surfaces has found a simple way of “closing the loop.” That’s how co-owner Elizabeth Fisher describes the North Charleston company’s concept for creating custom countertops and surfaces from locally recycled glass.

GlassEco’s sister company, Fisher Recycling, was founded in 1992 by Elizabeth’s husband, Chris. When they saw the materials they collected from local restaurants and businesses ending up at the county recycling center, the couple began looking for a way to repurpose the beer and wine bottles, glass tabletops, and clean manufacturing glass, in addition to developing a new revenue stream. In 2006, they founded GlassEco Surfaces, sourcing raw glass from area restaurants and other businesses to produce colorful countertops and surfaces for commercial and residential projects.

The company is able to tailor the look and color of their countertops to the specifications of an architect or client, which Elizabeth says sets them apart. “We call it a ‘recipe.’ You can use a certain percentage of red or a certain percentage of aqua and achieve a completely different color by adding brown sand, for instance,” she explains. “Part of our philosophy comes from the recycling side of the business, which is to minimize waste in addition to keeping our product locally made, thus reducing the carbon footprint.”

GlassEco is experimenting with new products and recently manufactured its first floor, cutting the slabs into tiles for a bathroom. It also is looking to expand, promoting its products to trade professionals including builders, architects, and interior designers, and widening its market to include Beaufort and Hilton Head.

While 75 percent of its transactions are residential, GlassEco encourages businesses, such as Accent on Wine and Commonouse Brewery in Park Circle, to close the loop by recycling glass bottles for use in their own countertops.

“As a restaurant, if you’re a Fisher Recycling customer, you are keeping it out of the landfill, and it’s also being reused in Charleston for a product that is beautiful,” Fisher says. “We do think that Charleston, every day, is becoming more aware of the impact that our businesses have on the environment. Businesses have the power to take control and do the right thing.”

Recycling by the Numbers - How Charleston’s efforts stack up

  • 9,030 tons: Glass recycled statewide in 2018
  • 580 pounds: Glass recycled by Charleston County in 2018
  • 28 percent: South Carolina’s statewide recycling rate
  • 33 percent: Charleston County’s recycling rate
  • Counties that have met the state’s recycling goal of 40 percent: Lexington and York

Source: South Carolina Solid Waste Management