HONOLULU (KHON2) — Did you know the shipping of glass is more expensive than the glass itself? That’s according to Matt Laundrie who’s helping to solve Hawaii’s glass waste one bottle at a time.
Located in Kahului, Maui, the 46-year-old entrepreneur is turning Hawaii’s trash into treasure by repurposing glass bottles into beautiful glassware.
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Laundrie said the glass would otherwise be destined for the landfill or shipped thousands of miles away, and that comes at a great cost.
“That’s when I decided to build the first micro glass factory in the world in the State of Hawaii,” Laundrie said. “Hawaii is a ‘redemption’ state which means you get money for returning it, and there’s only 12 in the United States. Hawaii is one of those 12, and what do we do with our glass?”
He said most of it is shipped off island, costing not only the taxpayers but also the environment by emitting thousands of pounds of carbon into the air from the transport of glass.
Laundrie’s company Revive Glassworks revives glassware sourced from recycled glass bottles that are mostly composted of wine, beer and liquor bottles from Maui Recycling Services, which they get from restaurants and hotels on the island.
Using specialized machinery, Revive Glassworks’ process involves cutting the bottle, sanding it down, flame torching the rims for a smooth finish and then making it glassware strong and dishwasher safe. The glassware then supplies the hotel and restaurant industry, individual customers, retail stores, events, weddings and other businesses. Glassware can also be customized to include business logos.
“My mission is to keep our glass in the state, in Hawaii, and build a $8 million glass factory on Maui which all the glass in the state will be taken to be processed and turned back in to jars and bottles exclusively for the food and beverage industry of Hawaii,” Laundrie said.
According to Laundrie, most food companies that use glass costs them 17% of their product cost, so if he can provide a locally-made glass jar or bottle, any food/beverage company in Hawaii would make a profit between 15% and 18%, and they wouldn’t have to wait months to get glass off island.
The glass factory is still in the planning phase, and anyone who wants to get involved can email Laundrie at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also looking for investors for this project that is “saving the environment, creating local jobs, saving the taxpayers money and helping the food and beverage industry make more money by not having to pay for shipping of their glass.”
Laundrie’s knowledge of glass within the food and beverage industry comes from experience.
His journey started with being the owner of HI Tide Nation, promoting top names in the music and comedy industry. For over 18 years, he has promoted over 1,000 headline shows, including big names like Steve Miller Band, David Crosby, Alice Cooper, Steve Martin, Joe Rogan and many more.
“2019 was one my my best years in the concert promotion business with over 76 shows that year. and most of them sold out,” said Laundrie. “Then COVID hit.”
“All of my shows were postponed,” Laundrie continued. “Then postponed again, then again. After about eight months, I realized that I should maybe find another career path.”
That led him to starting his own Indonesian style chili paste company called Shaka Sambal, which Laundrie said is sold in over 30 grocery stores on Maui and Oahu.
“Through that experience, I realized that there is no glass manufacturers in the State of Hawaii, and there’s thousands of companies having to ship in their glass jars and bottles from the mainland, China, Taiwan and Mexico,” said Laundrie.
That’s when the idea of repurposing recycled glass came to him, but he didn’t want to wait two years for a glass factory to be built since he was granted a permit exemption to manufacture recycled glass from the Department of Health.
“I explored all the ways we would repurpose the glass bottles before they are melted down into new jars and bottles for the food and beverage industry of Hawaii,” said Laundrie. “I found out there are so many things you can make from a glass bottle and decided to start Revive Glassworks as a ‘repurposing’ glass factory.”
He calls this the first phase, and then once the bigger glass factory gets built, he will be able to take glass from all the Hawaiian Islands and make new jars and bottles exclusively for the food and beverage industry.
Drinking glasses. Candle holders. Cheese platters. Self-watering planters. Tea light lanterns. Gorgeous vases. The possibilities are endless when it comes to repurposing glass.
“We take a bottle and transform it into 13 different products, and we are coming up with new products every month,” said Laundrie.
Revive Glassworks currently uses industrial equipment from Belgium that can produce over 1,000 glassware products per week. According to Laundrie, his glassware is more durable than most glass on the market because it’s made out of strong wine and liquor bottles, then annealed in a kiln.
“Restaurants and hotels have mentioned that they don’t have to reorder our glass as much compared to the regular drinkware they order that is more thin and fragile,” he said.
Laundrie said he currently has over 25 retail locations on Maui, and his business continues to expand.
“We are getting new accounts every week, and it’s growing fast. With the cost of shipping things to the Hawaiian Islands, our glassware will be very competitive and faster to receive over any other glassware shipped overseas to Hawaii,” said Laundrie.
Since only starting a year ago, Laundrie is just starting to make a little profit and is gladly accepting donations from any person or company.
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“It’s going to a really good cause,” he said, “and our mission is to keep Hawaii’s glass in the state, provide local jobs, to save the environment and to save tax payers and the food and beverage companies millions of dollars.”