George Valiotis On The Future Of Smart Recycling

Glass bottles are thrown away every day in massive amounts (at bars, sporting events, even at home). As a frequent afterthought in our lives, there often isn’t a clear solution on what to do with them— even when they are recycled, facilities don’t have the bandwidth to repurpose them.

George ValiotisPhoto Credit: Chris Semers XS Studios

George Valiotis knew consumers were already taking recycling seriously, even if the industry couldn’t support their contributions to a more sustainable world. Recognizing the need to modernize the necessary and longstanding practice, the Greek-American invested in the recycling facility Pace Glass in New Jersey.  

Since his first principal investment in Pace, Valiotis has expanded his regional footprint in the Northeast, breaking ground on a plant in Andover that will become the largest and most technologically advanced glass recycling center in the United States. With the ability to transform nearly 1 million tons of recycled glass per year into an end product that can be and is desired throughout industries that use glass, the Andover facility will have triple the capacity of the largest plant today— and will serve as a springboard nationwide.  

To learn more about how to scale sustainability, Haute Living recently caught up with the entrepreneur to discuss his approach to his business, and the value he sees in reusables.

HL: Tell us about your background. What motivated you to become an entrepreneur? What continues to inspire you to this day?

GV: I always believed that the most successful people in this world are those that adapted to change easily.  Being an entrepreneur inspires you to think, innovate, and transition constantly, never leaving you bored; this is the most intriguing part of the broad title, “entrepreneur.”  

Describe Pace Glass’ mission and the innovation behind your technology.

Many parts of the world have such advanced recycling systems, that until now, the United States did not compete with.  Pace Glass Recycling is committed to bringing the recycling industry “up to speed” in terms of technology. The result, which is the goal of our Andover facility, is to produce the cleanest and most consistent quality of cullet (broken or refuse glass usually added to new material to facilitate melting in making glass) in the United States, that can and will be used by end-markets, rather than being sent to landfills.  

What attracted you to base your operations out of New Jersey? 

The community and political support surrounding our plant concepts made New Jersey a great choice for holding our initial operations.

What makes what you do stand out/what is unique about your process?

Our process is unique from the physical production of the plant, to our team of operations.  Our plant in Andover will be the largest and most technologically advanced glass recycling plant in the United States.   Scheduled to produce 750,000 tons of cullet annually, it will produce an unmatched quality in cullet that is much desired by the end-markets that are looking to use recycled glass, in an effort to lower their own production costs. Our operations team is a group of exceptionally driven professionals that share the same vision for the industry and Pace Glass Recycling that communicates weekly about the progress and direction of that vision.

What do you think needs to change in the recycling business right now? 

Upgraded recycling facilities that can better handle contaminated recycled goods, greater informed citizens regarding the need for good recycling legislation, and better knowledge of the overwhelming environmental and economic benefits that recycling can have on a nation. 

Has being a father changed your approach to business at all? 

Being a father is like becoming CEO of a company that you can never back down from – and that’s a great thing. It gives a different substance to all that you do; even business and success have a different taste when you know that it’s shared with your family. While I’ve always been very methodical in my business practices, I feel like becoming a father has only made me better at it – especially since my daughter has begun negotiating with me on most things I ask her to do… 

What is your definition of success?

Success for me is a simple recipe whose ingredients vary in amount but are essentially the same – it begins with an idea in its simplest form, the dream – or potential of that idea, strategy, resilience and perseverance.

What’s next for you and for Pace Glass? 

Expansion. I’d like to see Andover reach its potential in production and quality, and then duplicate that throughout the United States.

Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years’ time?

I would like and believe I will see Pace Glass Recycling as the U.S. leader in glass recycling in less than 10 years. I certainly see myself having progressed in my other real estate development projects, and I can be certain that I will be a leader in the art of negotiations, as my children will be approaching their teens and will keep me practicing.