Tableware Today – Refresh Glass

Fact: glass makes up more than 5% of landfills.

Fact: two-thirds of wine bottles aren’t recycle

Fact: recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for six hours.

With these facts in mind, Ray DelMuro’s mission is to recycle 10 million bottles, fashion them into saleable product, and improve the planet in the process.

Ray DelMuro is a one-time aeronautical engineer who has found the perfect mediumto meld his left brain/right brain gifts. Refresh Glass, the company he founded in 2008, repurposes wine bottles into drinking glasses, carafes, vases, and candleholders saving 200,000 bottles from the landfill each year. Thus far, Refresh Glass has recycled more than 450,000 wine bottles on its way to its 10 million bottle rescue mission. “I wanted to find a solution to this problem and improve our planet while making something useful out of the bottles,” says DelMuro.

The Phoenix-based 36-year-old’s business has been a steady word-of-mouth grow. For five years, he’s sold his wares to local merchants as well as on his own e-commerce site. Now, DelMuro’s ready to launch on a larger scale as he works his way to that 10 million bottle goal in five years’ time. Every month DelMuro rescues 20,000 wine bottles from area restaurants, bars, and hotels. The bottles are cleaned, stocked by color, manufactured with custom built machinery of his own design, polished, and sold. “We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” DelMuro avers. “Every week we have people wanting to get involved on some level, provide us with empty wine bottles, or support our mission by featuring our products.”

DelMuro has a strong tech background with a B.S. and M.S. in industrial technology and engineering. “Ever since I was a little kid I loved Legos and art and I welded my own furniture in college, so I always knew this would be part of my life in some way, shape, or form.” DelMuro spent five years as a manufacturing engineer for a billion dollar Southern California aerospace operation constructing airplane parts. “I was an engineer because I loved creating efficiency,” he says. “I had access to millions of dollars of tools and super cool processes.”

But a sense of roads not taken impelled his next move. “I had a fancy title and, on paper, it felt like I had everything. But I didn’t. You can’t derive happiness from a resume. I wasn’t passionate about airplane parts, so I resigned.” DelMuro used his savings to travel the globe for a year, during which time he had a climactic epiphany. “I wanted a job where people could tell I loved it just by the inflection in my voice,” he says. “Life is short, and following your passion is one of the hardest things to do. It was time for me to do that.”

DelMuro sought something that incorporated his engineering background into a creative pursuit that also supported a larger cause. That’s when he ordered a bottle cutting kit and began experimenting with refashioning bottles. “It was a challenge,” he acknowledges. “My first bottle took hours.” Initially, it was an entertaining diversion; fancy vodka bottles were used to make drinkware. “I filled my cupboard with glasses,” he says. “They were unique and my friends had an emotional response to them.”

That same year, DelMuro turned his amusement into a business launching Refresh Glass from his garage, maxing out credit cards as seed money. He tended bar to make ends meet and enrolled in entrepreneurial courses to boost potential. DelMuro fabricated all his own equipment, an obvious source of immense pride. “Our rims have a perfectly beautifully smooth finish,” he beams. “I taught myself everything, trial and error.”

Using bottles proffered by a friend’s bartending company, DelMuro started with four-packs of 16oz glasses. In time, he curried relationships with restaurants and hotels to regularly receive their empty bottles. “That’s still how we do it, five years later,” he says. “It gives glass that would be wasted a whole new beginning. I transformed a problem into an effective business model.” Over the last half-decade, Refresh Glass – a most fitting moniker – has been on the receiving end of flattering local and national press. “There’s a feel-good aspect to this,” DelMuro agrees, “and a lot of people take pride in playing their part.”

Last year, the burgeoning entrepreneur decided he was wearing too many hats, so he took on a minority share investor sympathetic to purpose-driven businesses, a conscious capitalist. “I don’t handle production anymore,” he divulges. “I concentrate on product development, as well as upgrade and fix the machinery. I’m more of a boss now than a production person. It’s about helping the business grow. People love our products; we just need to let the world know we exist.” It’s his greatest challenge, he admits. “In the beginning we didn’t have much of a marketing budget, and we were telling our story one person at a time. Now, we’ve jumped to the next level with great media support.” To capitalize on the positive press, Refresh Glass has taken on a sales team, doubled production capacity, and introduced new collections. “Last year was a big growth spurt for us,” he says. “We moved to a larger space [their fifth upgrade, now operating from a 6,000-square-foot facility] where we produce 1,000 pieces a day, and we’re building inventory.”

The dishwasher-safe, highly durable assortments include five colors – green, gold, clear, antique, and amber (the most popular color perhaps because it’s the least expensive since there are so many amber bottles recycled). There are 75 SKUs – drinkware , carafes, vases, planters, soy candles – which retail from $15 to $40.

The newest collection, the Refresh Memories Kit, has DelMuro stoked. Here’s how it works: customer request an empty crate from Refresh Glass which they fill with the empty wine bottles from an important celebration, like a wedding or birthday. The bottles are then sent to Refresh Glass where they are transformed into etched momentos with names, dates, or other personal messages. “This is a real game changer for us,” DelMuro proclaims. “We transform bottles used at an emotional event to a tangible product. This kit allows people to relive their most cherished memories.” The kits retail from $200 to $350 depending on if you use their collected bottles or your own. The kit includes the cost of the etching which is done in house. “It’s such a unique way to relive the event,” DelMuro continues. “It’s a great gift with real everyday function. The biggest thing on my to-do list is getting th word out on these kits.”

DelMuro is bullish on business, his sights set on being a $20 million player by decade’s end. “Only people crazy enough to dream it get there,” he maintains. “And our product will get us there.” A promising partnership with Whole Foods – it starts locally where Refresh Glass enjoys a huge presence, with the intent of going national – as well as an innovative social media project where DelMuro posts on different product uses for a wine bottle’s parts (like trivets made out of corks) are outside-the-box projects that fuel DelMuro’s passion, a passion clearly palpable in his voice, which he so desperately desired.

”Everyone wants their efforts to be a story and part of something better,” he says. “People love wine and have an attachment to it. You enjoy it with people you care about. Every one of those wine bottles was filled and sold somewhere. Then we step in, take the empty bottle, remake it, and sell it so it has a whole new life. How many products do you know with a story like that, that’s so unique? It’s like a Forrest Gump box of chocolates; every glass has a different story. And, in the process, we’re bettering the planet a bottle at a time.”



Arizona Based Company Helps Hospitality and Retail Partners

TEMPE, AZ–(Marketwired – Feb 18, 2014) – Refresh Glass, a Tempe, AZ based company that creates functional wine bottle art made from empties rescued from landfills is helping restaurants, hotels, and retailers generate revenue while contributing to their 10 Million Bottle Rescue Mission.

Hotels and restaurants that use Refresh Glass products get enthusiastic responses from guests who recognize the wine bottles they know and love while increasing engagement with their staff. The repurposed wares also help broaden their sustainability programs that the public increasingly looks for every year.

“The FireSky Resort and Spa is a very green conscious resort and we have been using Refresh Glasses in our event areas and guest rooms for over 3 years,” said Cheryl Martin, General Manager. “Our guests continually have animated responses to how fun and unique they are. We also sell their 4 packs in our gift shop which makes the glassware a great overall win for us. The partnership has been successful and I always look forward to what is coming next!” she continued.

Restaurants have had created raving fans with similar guest responses like at the nationally acclaimed Husk Restaurant in Charleston, SC.

“We have been using Refresh glassware since our inception in 2010. The 16 oz Amber glasses add rusticity to our contemporary dining room. The 12 oz antiques are used for our cocktails and bring a unique twist to our beverage program. Refresh glasses are sturdy and beautiful, in addition to being on the front lines of the fight against waste, making them a perfect choice for us here at Husk,” said Jennifer Bresnahan, Manager.

Refresh Glass began in the garage of Ray DelMuro, a former aerospace engineer, in an effort to combine his passions for the function of engineering, the responses of art, and a great cause. The company now has gone from humble beginnings in the local farmers market to diverting over 15,000 empty wine bottles each month from local collection partners who would have otherwise thrown them away. The bottles are then transformed into functional products such as drinking glasses, candle holders, vases, planters and more.

“We now sell to Wolfgang Puck, Four Seasons, Whole Foods Market and we ship all over the country. We create multifaceted win-win situations for our hospitality and wholesale partners. They make money for their businesses while supporting a greater cause,” said Ray DelMuro, founder and owner of Refresh Glass.

Refresh Glass products can be found on their website. They also offer bulk pricing for hospitality venues and wholesale pricing for retailers.

At its current pace, Refresh Glass anticipates hitting the half million mark in their rescue mission in early summer. While collections are solely from restaurant and hotel partners, there are plans developing for quarterly public bottle drives.

One Bottle at a Time – Old wine bottles become works of art

By Katie Snyder


Ray DelMuro has always known what he’s destined for.

“I’ve loved making things since I was young,” says DelMuro. “From Legos to welding my own furniture in college, I always knew it would be a part of my life in some way, shape or form.”

And it was. DelMuro’s glass making odyssey started back in 2008. DelMuro was working as a manufacturing engineer for a Southern California aerospace company when he started experimenting with empty wine bottles and a bottle-cutting kit.

“More than two-thirds of wine bottles in America are not recycled,” says DelMuro. “I wanted to find a solution, improve our planet and make something useful out of the bottles.”

Determined, he sat for hours, sanding and cutting away until he had a functional piece of art.

“It was a challenge,” says DelMuro. “My first bottle took hours.”

Eventually he figured it out and decided to take his experiment and turn it into a business. That same year, DelMuro launched Refresh Glass, a Phoenix-based company that recycles empty wine bottles, turning them into drinking glasses, vases and other works of art.

“Refresh Glass has transformed a problem into an effective business model,” says DelMuro.

And it has worked. Every month more than 10,000 wine bottles are recycled from area restaurants, bars and hotels. They are then cleaned, stocked by color, manufactured with custom built machinery and polished at a manufacturing facility in Tempe.

Today, Refresh Glass has recycled over 400,000 wine bottles and his products can be found online or at Valley establishments like Postino, Pizzeria Bianco, Hyatt Gainey Ranch, Phoenix Public Market and Practical Art.

“We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” says DelMuro. “Every week we have people wanting to get involved on some level and help provide us with empty wine bottles or support our mission by featuring our products.”

But their bottle rescue mission doesn’t stop there. According to DelMuro, Refresh Glass has big plans for 2014, thanks to a recent partnership with Valley grocery chain, Whole Foods.

“Together with Whole Foods, we plan to launch a bottle collection program,” says DelMuro. “This will allow more individuals to get involved and help our bottle rescue mission.”

The program will start in Tempe and eventually run in all Valley Whole Food stores as well as those in the Southern Pacific United States. The popular grocery chain will sell DelMuro’s products as well.

“This is a great opportunity for Refresh Glass,” says DelMuro. “We couldn’t be more excited and this is just one of our planned business ventures that will come in 2014.”

Also in 2014, Refresh Glass plans to join forces with other Valley hotels and event venues offering what DelMuro is calling the “Refresh Memories Kit.”

“From weddings to birthday parties, this kit will allow people to relive their most cherished memories,” says DelMuro.

According to DelMuro there will be several different options that include various types of bottles and an etching option, all for under $500.

“From our custom packages to our individual products like vases, glassware and candle holders–our product is unique,” says DelMuro. “With the continued support from our partners and various clients, we hope to continue our bottle rescue mission and show our on-going commitment to bettering the planet one bottle at a time.”