Nation’s First-Ever Center for Glass Innovation at SUNY Alfred

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new nation-leading collaboration with the State College of Ceramics at Alfred University to bolster markets for recycled glass and improve the quality of glass available for recovery throughout New York. The Center for Glass Innovation was first announced in the Governor’s 2020 State of the State Address and will play an instrumental role in helping recycling markets and municipal recycling programs find new ways to produce and recycle glass.  

“The College of Ceramics at Alfred University is playing a critical role in enhancing recycling markets and the overall economic revival of the Southern Tier,” Governor Cuomo said. “This first-ever Center for Glass Innovation builds on our efforts partnering the best academic institutions with industry experts to develop strategies to make New York a cleaner and greener state. The investment will also help to ensure our students have the education and skills they need for new opportunities and jobs in the green economy of the future.” 

Recycling markets continue to experience volatility. As a result, recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material, impacting local solid waste recycling efforts. Glass is the heaviest component of the municipal waste stream and costly to process. The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working with key stakeholders, including municipalities, to strategize on how to bolster new markets to build capacity in the state and the northeast region to address these challenges.   

As a major focus of this initiative, the New York State College of Ceramics (NYSCC) will form the Center for Glass Innovation as a research resource for glass producers in New York State and, ultimately, nationally. The Center will create space for basic and applied research, user facilities, and experimental glass tanks for applied, industrial-scale research, with an emphasis on creating higher value end markets for curbside collected glass. This will be the first center of its kind in the United States where glass companies will be able to test small batches of new glass compositions in a pilot production environment.  

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “With the launching of the Center for Glass Innovation, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University will be at the epicenter of the glass industry’s growth and evolution. In the latest chapter in a long history of public-private partnership, the College of Ceramics—a national leader in glass science research and education—will collaborate with industry-leading private companies to develop next generation glass materials, make manufacturing processes more energy efficient, and uncover ways to reuse glass that would otherwise be dumped into a landfill. Ultimately, this initiative will create more sustainable, eco-friendly communities and help accomplish Governor Cuomo’s ambitious goal of achieving a carbon-neutral economy. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation for their investment in this important research project, and New York’s leading glass companies for their partnership.”  

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “We want to keep New York’s academic institutions ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging trends in recycling. Governor Cuomo’s investment in this center is a sign of New York’s commitment to not only providing top notch educational opportunities to Alfred University students, but also helping to grow the highly skilled workforce that employers want and need in this competitive field.” 

Alfred University President Dr. Mark Zupan said, “The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, as one of the premier glass research institutions in the world, is well positioned to support the growth of New York State’s glass industry though this project aimed at increasing the reuse of glass which otherwise would end up in a landfill. This will also contribute significantly towards achieving Governor Cuomo’s vision of a carbon neutral economy. For over 120 years, the College of Ceramics has been a leader in glass research. Over the past 30 years, our Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology has been supporting the growth of the State’s technical ceramics and glass industry by providing access to Alfred’s unique technical infrastructure and knowledgebase. CACT will be an important resource in engaging New York’s glass companies in this DEC-funded effort.”

SUNY’s statutory unit at Alfred University, the NYSCC, will receive nearly $1.7 million for this initiative through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) as part of a three-year agreement. NYSCC has a world-renowned reputation in the field of glass science and engineering and is the only institution in the country to offer a doctoral degree in glass science. Since NYSCC’s glass science and engineering degree was established in 1932, thousands of graduates have found successful positions at the forefront of materials discovery, glass processing, and manufacturing. NYSCC’s location in the Southern Tier of New York State is in excellent geographic proximity to important facilities such as: Corning Inc.; Guardian Glass; Anchor Glass; and Tesla/SolarCity. Other collaborators include Monofrax; St. Gobain; Owens-Illinois; and the Glass Manufacturer Industry Council.