Maker’s Mark Distillery Chief Operating Office and Grandson of its founders Rob Samuels has introduced the distilleries Glass to Sand initiative. You don’t just end up at Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky by accident. It’s not exactly just off the highway or on the way to some other landmark. In fact, this site that was designated a National Historic site in 1970 pretty much is a destination in and of itself.

Earlier this year, Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky announced it had achieved B Corporation status. In order to become a B corporation companies must meet many standards of sustainability. According to Rob Samuels, 8th Generation Distiller and Managing Director the company didn’t necessarily start out to be a B Corporation but they always believed in best practices in trying to be good stewards of the land they occupy in this central Kentucky community. When they did decide to go for B Corporation certification, they discovered very little needed to change because they were already operating by the B Corporation standards and didn’t even know it. In April, they received their official status as a B Corporation. Samuels said that as far as they know, they are the largest distillery in the U.S. that has achieved this status.

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Maker’s Mark is 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 pulverize 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.”   

Glass Smash Locations and Schedule

“Every Thursday from 3pm to 6pm now through November 17th customers can bring in all their empty glass to be recycled right here in these Kroger stores and the best part is we are going to do a little Maker’s Mark tasting event on top of that,” according to Chris Blandford, Kroger’s Adult Beverage Field Specialist. You get to crush your glass and do a little Maker’s Mark tasting.

“It takes 10 seconds to crush one bottle into pretty much sand. This bottle (a 750 mL bottle) has the equivalent of seven crushed Maker’s Mark bottles inside.”

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

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