As glass items were phased out of area single-source collection streams in 2018, we were both incensed and inspired. Sending an infinitely recyclable material to sit in a landfill forever is not only wasteful but ultimately unsustainable. Fast forward to January 2021, Prism launched a public-private partnership pilot program with an immediate positive response. With 15 free drop-off locations throughout Erie county, the pilot program collected nearly 100 tons of glass in the first five months and showed strong, sustained demand. Partners include Erie Management Group, Erie County Recycling Program, Erie Area Council of Governments, CAP Glass, the Glass Recycling Foundation, and 10 area municipalities.
Benefits at Scale
Imagine for a moment: if the pilot program was able to collect almost 100 tons of glass in just the first several months, what could that look like if every household, restaurant, bar, brewery, and winery in Erie County dropped their recyclable glass into a big blue box instead of a trash bag? That would keep hundreds of thousands of tons of glass out of the landfills. Even more, glass is infinitely recyclable and requires lower temperatures to process than raw minerals used to make new glass, making it more economical for manufacturers and better for our environment.
Looking to the Future
As we grow locally in Erie County, we are working to make it easy and convenient for households, businesses, and events to join us in putting recyclable glass back on the shelves.
Glass recycling is a bigger problem than in just the Erie region; Prism is looking to expand in areas like north-central Pennsylvania, western New York, northeastern Ohio, and beyond.
“So happy you are doing this! It is so awful to throw glass in the trash…” is the refrain heard from so many after launching Prism Glass Recycling in January 2021.
The Prism Model
One of the most noteworthy features of this model is that it puts Pennsylvanians to work and keeps them there via a localized, circular economy:
Samuel P. “Pat” Black III
Committed to helping revitalize Erie, Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III has fully invested his efforts and resources in creating jobs and building companies with innovative products to capitalize on economic opportunities in the Lake Erie region and beyond. Since the early 2000s, he has founded Erie Management Group, Lake Erie Biofuels dba Hero BX, and Calypso Enterprises, to name a few. Now also the founder of Prism Glass Recycling, Black has pushed our region forward once more toward a sustainable future.
In addition to breathing new life into local business, Pat Black has furthered the legacy of his father Samuel P. Black, Jr., through their work with the Black Family Foundation. Infusing tens of millions of dollars into the greater Erie community, the Black Family Foundation has focused on initiatives that drive educational attainment and self-sufficiency.
Pat Black continues to sustain The Elizabeth Lee Black School at the Barber National Institute in honor of his late sister, and The Sam and Irene Black School of Business at Penn State Erie – The Behrend College, started through a $20 million endowment which continues to fund countless scholarships for students within its walls.
In September 2017, Pat Black was awarded the coveted Commitment to Erie Legacy Award, recognizing his extraordinary contributions in the areas of business and philanthropy over a sustained period.
Co-Founder, Interim President & CEO
Sumi James-Black brings nearly 30 years of experience as a diversity champion, a corporate leader, and a highly regarded manager. As the Interim CEO, President & COO of Erie Management Group, HERO BX, and Prism Glass Recycling James-Black is the leader of the overall strategic initiatives encompassing business development, acquisitions, leadership management, and company culture. Her prior global experience and achievements as a key leader at Advanced Neuro Dynamics, a leading development and training company with headquarters in Kona, Hawaii, resulted in double-digit growth while improving employee and customer satisfaction. James-Black also has over six years of experience in facilitating, buying, managing, and dealing with international negotiations in high-end boutique retail ventures at the world-renowned Ala Moana Center and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, both in Honolulu, Hawaii. James-Black’s key competencies are strategic management, talent development, sales, and marketing with a strong commitment to client and employee satisfaction. James-Black is sought after for her numerous successful endeavors in coaching business professionals to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Most importantly, she is a champion for diversity as she has pioneered new organizational models that have proven to be a standard of excellence in industry.
Sumi lived most of her life in Hawaii until she moved to the mainland in 2015 to take a direct role in the existing Black family businesses while supporting her father’s entrepreneurial efforts to continue to grow Erie’s manufacturing base.
Business Development Manager
Nicholas J. Bruno, a native of Edinboro, joined Erie Management Group in the fall of 2020 bringing over 30 years of project and program development across several sectors. Starting off in the early-90’s in the healthcare sector, Bruno provided clinical services and developed clinical fitness and rehabilitation programs and centers in West Virginia and Maryland. He then moved to the Republic of Armenia as a health specialist Peace Corps Volunteer developing and delivering in-service training programs for clinical nurses. Bruno then joined the USAID Mission to Armenia as a Health Advisor on a 15-million-dollar nationwide healthcare development portfolio. Bruno went on to lead a USAID-funded community and youth development project across 40 communities throughout Armenia that empowered regular citizens to engage with local government officials to affect positive change in their communities. Finally, Bruno carried out the duties of the Director of Programming and Training in the US Peace Corps Armenia Country Office, leading programming and training staff to prepare and provide support to over 300 Peace Corps Volunteers. Upon returning stateside, he provided independent consulting services to NSF International on overseas agricultural and food safety development projects for three years.
With the removal of recyclable glass containers from many of the municipal recycling programs at the beginning of January 2019, Bruno put his development skills to work to cofound a small company in June 2019 and begin free public collections. Recognizing that a larger effort was needed to reposition post-consumer glass containers as source material for manufacturing Bruno then joined EMG to help build Prism Glass Recycling into a regional company focusing on partnerships to strengthen the supply chain infrastructure.
Bruno enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the great outdoors cycling, canoe/kayaking, sailing, and skiing. He also is a member of the National Ski Patrol and serves as a volunteer ski patroller at Mount Pleasant of Edinboro ski area.
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