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.”