Glass to Garden

Maker’s Mark® “crushes it” for environmental benefits in unique glass upcycling initiative

October 14, 2022

For Immediate Release – October 14, 2022

Public can support this glass-to-sand effort at select retailers this fall 

LORETTO, Ky. – Maker’s Mark, a Kentucky distillery leading the way in environmental practices, is piloting an innovative, new initiative to upcycle glass bottles with the help of multiple beverage retailers in the Louisville and Lexington areas. The program, called Glass to Garden, uses pulverizer machines to crush glass into a sand-like substance that has many environmental benefits and opportunities for reuse. 

During Maker’s Mark tasting events at select Kroger and Liquor Barn locations this fall, consumers can bring empty glass bottles of any type to witness the glass being smashed to smithereens. (Locations and schedule listed on back.) The resulting material, known as recovered crushed glass (RCG), which is finer and safer than sand, will be donated to Louisville Grows and Lexington’s Seedleaf – two nonprofits that work with and run urban community gardens in their respective cities. 

“We’ve been using the glass crushers at our distillery in Loretto for more than a year now,” said Kim Harmon, Director of Safety and Sustainability at Maker’s Mark Distillery. “Now we’re excited to expand this best practice into the community to broaden the environmental benefit and help educate the public on glass recycling and upcycling.” 

“The Glass to Garden program fits in nicely with Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiatives to eliminate waste in the communities we serve,” said Jessica Sharp, Associate Communications Manager, Kroger. “This is a meaningful way to show how we can all work together to reduce waste, and we are proud to participate in this program at select Kroger locations in the Louisville and Lexington areas.”  

“People might wonder why they would bother bringing their containers in for crushing when they could simply be placed in a recycling bin. What we tell them is that it’s always better to reuse material if you can versus recycling,” said Harmon. According to the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), less than half the glass thrown into single-stream recycling bins, such as the ones in homes, gets recycled. Participating in community programs such as Glass to Garden allows up to 100% of the glass to become something that benefits the environment.  

“This is a win-win situation,” said Lisa Dettlinger, Louisville Grows Interim Executive Director. “We get to see a common waste product reduced to a fraction of its volume and then used to enhance the growing conditions of the soil in community gardens and orchards, enabling people to grow their own local, healthy food. Healthy soil is the foundation of every garden, allowing healthy root growth to grow healthy vegetables and create healthier communities.” 

“Our bourbon is made from and with natural ingredients, so doing our part for the environment is intrinsic to our culture at Maker’s Mark,” said Rob Samuels, eighth-generation distiller and Managing Director of Maker’s Mark Distillery. “It’s in this spirit that we proudly became the largest bourbon distillery to become B Corp certified earlier this year and why we continue to pursue programs such as Glass to Garden. It’s about living our values every day and helping our neighbors, partners and fans to do the same.” 

Locations and schedule 

The glass crushers will be operated during Maker’s Mark tastings events at the following locations, dates and times, with additional dates and locations to be determined.  

Kroger Wine and Spirits Oct 20 Oct 27 Nov 3 Nov 10 Nov 17 
Louisville Prospect, 5929 Timber Ridge Dr. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Louisville Middletown, 12501 Shelbyville Rd. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Louisville McMahan Plaza, 3039 Breckenridge Ln. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Louisville Valley Station, 10645 Dixie Highway 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Shelbyville, 311 Boone Station Rd. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Lexington, 3175 Beaumont Centre Circle 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Georgetown, 106 Marketplace Circle 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Versailles, 212 Kroger Way 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 3-6 p.m. 
Liquor Barn Oct 22 Oct 29 Nov 5 Nov 12 Nov 19 
Louisville Middletown, 13401 Shelbyville Rd. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 
Lexington Hamburg, 1837 Plaudit Place 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 2-5 p.m. 


What kinds of glass can be recycled?  

The pulverizer is not just for Maker’s Mark® bottles. Any type and color of glass will be accepted. It simply needs to fit in the pulverizer’s chute. 

How much glass can I bring at one time? 

As much as you want. 

Should I remove the label and the red wax from my Maker’s® bottle before it is pulverized? 

No.The label and wax do not need to be removed before the bottle is pulverized.  

Can I watch the glass being pulverized? 

For safety reasons, the pulverizing of the glass is done inside the unit. While you are not able to watch the glass being pulverized, you can see the sand generated from the glass almost immediately after it is pulverized simply by removing the bin. 

Can I keep the sand from my pulverized bottles/glass? 

No. All of the sand will be repurposed in the community. 

Is this more environmentally friendly than recycling? How/why?  

According to the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), less than half the glass thrown into single-stream recycling bins, such as the ones in homes, gets recycled. Most recyclers pulverize glass and sell it as a raw material to glass manufacturers, concrete manufacturers, etc. By pulverizing glass, we are lessening the carbon footprint of transporting the unpulverized glass to a recycler/pulverizer. We then offer this material to local community gardens for reuse. It’s always better to reuse material if you can versus recycling.  

Why are you doing this? 

Bourbon is made from and with natural ingredients – corn, wheat, barley, water, white oak. It’s important for us to take care of the environment so we can make the best nature-distilled bourbon possible. Maker’s Mark sustainability initiatives, such as upcycling glass, played a significant role in the distillery gaining B Corp certification earlier this year. 

Does Maker’s Mark do this at the distillery? What is the sand used for there? 

Yes, Maker’s Mark pulverizes glass at the distillery. We have three small pulverizer units and one large unit onsite to pulverize all our used glass. The sand is offered to employees at no cost. Some of the projects employees have used it for include aggregate in raised garden beds, walkways, a man-made beach around a lake and for landscaping and play areas (instead of mulch). We have even created a walkway on campus made from pulverized glass and plan to create nature trails. 

Will this program continue? 

We hope to have this program more broadly available in the near future. 

Is the sand sharp like glass or can I walk on it barefoot? 

The sand is not sharp like glass. The hammers inside the unit pulverize the glass, dulling any sharp edges. You can walk on it barefoot or run your hands through it. 

Is food grown in soil mixed with glass sand safe to eat? 

Yes. You should wash the produce before eating it, just as you would wash produce purchased from the grocery store. 

Does the sand produced by the crushed glass provide any benefits to the soil? 

The pulverized glass acts as an aggregate, creating aeration in the soil by preventing clay particles from being too closely packed. The soil’s water retention and the sand particles’ ability to inhibit drainage create a nice balance between drainage and moisture retention. 

What else can the pulverized glass be used for besides gardening? 

Trailways, roadways, construction projects, sandbags, etc. 

How many Maker’s Mark® bottles does it take to produce a usable amount of sand for a community garden? 

Quite a few. Tell your friends and family to bring their empty bottles to the participating retailers on the designated days and times. Seven crushed bottles will fit inside one empty bottle of Maker’s Mark (using 750 mL bottles).

How long will the pulverizers be available? 

The pulverizers will be at select Kroger Wine and Spirits and Liquor Barn locations through Nov. 19. (See schedule on other side.) 

About Maker’s Mark® Bourbon: In 1953, in Loretto, Ky., Bill Samuels, Sr., fulfilled his dream to create a handmade and delicious bourbon. He decided to make his whisky in small batches, using soft red winter wheat to enhance the softness and sweetness. He then rotated each barrel by hand for consistency and, finally, aged each barrel to taste. Bill Samuels, Sr., transformed bourbon from a “commodity” into a premium handmade spirit, and today Maker’s Mark continues to make its bourbon the same way. That time-tested approach seems to still be working just fine 60+ years later, as Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon was awarded a Double Gold medal at the esteemed San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2021. In recent years, Maker’s Mark has introduced thoughtful, super-premium innovations to its portfolio, including Maker’s Mark 46, Maker’s Mark Cask Strength and Maker’s Mark Private Selection, the brand’s first-ever custom barrel program. For more information, visit


Maker’s Mark® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, 45% Alc./Vol. ©2022 Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc., Loretto, KY. 


Media Contact:

Bob Lauder


Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly