Made in Charlottesville: Evolution Glass

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- A Charlottesville company is the only one in the world building counter tops out of 100-percent recycled glass.

"We are taking something that was your wine bottle from last night's dinner and we are making it into your counter top for tomorrow," said John Catherine Gray, a design engineer for Evolution Glass.

The process starts at the Ivy Landfill in Albemarle County, where Evolution Glass founder Bill Hess and his team sift through a mountain of trash every week.

For $6, Hess collects about 800 pounds of recycled glass to take back to the company headquarters in a Woolen Mills warehouse where the real work begins.

Hess and Gray sort through the glass bottles and put them through a grinder. Once the glass is ground up, they sift it and scan with a metal detector to remove any metals. Finally, the glass is put in a custom-made oven where it bakes for a few days.

"Every time I open the oven and I see what's created, I'm blown away," said Hess.

An engineer with a background in studio art, Hess founded Evolution Glass in September of 2015. It's the only company in the world using 100-percent recycled glass to create counter tops for homes and offices.

Hess customized the oven used to bake each piece and that's what makes his process so unique.

"Other counter tops that use recycled glass, most of them use concrete as a binder," Hess said. "The only binder for this product is heat. Heat binds the glass together. It's transparent so you can see through it and it has a depth that no other counter top has."

The customized counter tops are priced at about $160 per square foot. Interior designers, builders, and homeowners looking to renovate are all clients.

Although Evolution Glass is based in Charlottesville, Hess said plans are in the works to expand to Richmond and Washington, D.C.

"There is magic in this," Hess said. "There's real magic in being able to take material that people don't normally see as valuable and transform it to a place where they are like, 'this is precious. This is something I want to have a reverent relationship with,' and that makes me very happy."

Evolution Glass is working on a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $100,000 to put toward the purchase of additional ovens in order to be able to ramp up production.

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