Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Glass Half Full: Local recycling restores coastal erosion

 

“Louisiana has lost approximately 1,900 square miles of its coast since 1932,” according to the City of New Orleans. The rapid coastal erosion comes as the byproduct of climate change, rising sea levels, and human involvement. In order to fight back against this coastal loss, two former Tulane students, Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz, founded Glass Half Full, a company dedicated to the recycling of glass, which is then used for coastal restoration projects throughout the Gulf Coast.

Glass Half Full came into existence in 2020, when Trautmann and Steitz began to think about how and why they couldn’t recycle the bottle of wine they had just finished, as the City of New Orleans halted their curbside glass recycling program following low participation in 2016.

Through their pick-up and drop-off services, the glass that the company collects is crushed and sifted into sand. The majority of this sand is used for coastal restoration purposes, however the recycled glass is used in a variety of ways.

“It’s used for eco construction [and] new glass products like jewelry. The applications are quite vast and fun,” Marketing & Outreach Coordinator at Glass Half Full, Ellie Watts, said.

According to Watts, the company’s growth in just a few years has been immense, with discussion about expanding into Birmingham, AL taking place following the construction of a new Louisiana facility and the exponential growth of pickup services and community involvement.

While the city of New Orleans accepts glass at a weekly drop-off center, they still struggle with obstacles in terms of their curbside recycling program and recycling processes.
“The two Materials Recovery Facilities currently utilized by the City’s contractors do not accept glass as part of their single stream recycling portfolio,” Deputy Chief Resilience Officer at the Office of Resilience & Sustainability, Greg Nichols and Director of Sanitation, Matt Tori said.

Following a $3.98 million grant awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the city is looking to expand their curbside recycling program, however they still struggle with resources to effectively recycle glass. In order to meet this niche in the recycling market the City of New Orleans contracted with Glass Half Full to take care of the city’s glass.

The glass that the city receives to be recycled is sent to the company, increasing output of sand to be used for coastal restoration projects and new glass products.

While the city and Glass Half Full are partnered, New Orleans is using the grant to fund their goals of improving the recycling system within the city.

“That master plan will evaluate regional recycling infrastructure and capacity with an eye towards building a local Materials Recovery Facility that can accept additional waste streams, including glass,” said Nichols and Tori.

According to Glass Half Full drop off assistant Jamie Koffler, the company is able to recycle so much glass that they are able to send several hundred tons of sandbags to the North Shore a couple of times each year. Because of efforts like this, there has been visible progress in the restoration of the coastline thus far.

“Glass Half Full is definitely a pioneer in transforming glass into something that can be used to save our coast and save our wetlands,” Watts said.

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About the Contributors
Eloise Pickering
Eloise Pickering, Worldview Editor
Eloise Pickering is a current freshman and the Worldview editor. She is a mass communication major, and her favorite movie is Spotlight. When not doing homework or working at the Maroon, Eloise can often be found pondering philosophically in Audubon Park. She has often been dubbed “The Thinker.” Eloise can be reached at [email protected].
Sophia-Maxim
Sophia-Maxim, Editor-in-Chief
Sophia Maxim is a multimedia journalist and designer from Atlanta, GA. She is The Maroon’s incoming Editor-in-Chief and previously served as Managing Editor for Print and Design Chief. She is a visual communication sophomore with a design minor. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, listening to podcasts, and collaborating on creative projects. Sophia can be reached at [email protected].

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