Science & Technology

These Rogue Glass Recyclers Want to Create New Sand for Louisiana’s Coast

Glass Half Full’s drop off bins in New Orleans.

Glass Half Full’s drop off bins in New Orleans.
Photograph: Franziska Trautmann/ Glass Half Full

A glass recycling and shoreline restoration undertaking in New Orleans was impressed by a bottle of wine. Cofounders Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz met as college students at Tulane College. One evening, over drinks, they lamented about how their wine bottle would simply find yourself within the trash, as a result of New Orleans doesn’t recycle glass.

“We have been like, ‘why is that this going to the landfill when it might be used for thus many different issues and be recycled and repurposed?’ So we determined to do one thing about it… nonetheless small that one thing might have been,” Trautmann informed Earther.

After that fated wine bottle, Trautmann and Steitz launched a GoFundMe in an effort to purchase a small machine that will flip glass into sand one bottle at a time again in February 2020. Glass Half Full was born. They bought the machine in March, after which the pandemic shut New Orleans down. Throughout that first 12 months of covid-19, a Glass Half Full TikTok account helped them develop the operation regardless of the pandemic. They now have over 260,000 followers and who watch their movies about recycling food-grade glass that will have in any other case lay in a landfill for 1000’s of years.

Glass Half Full demo in Louisiana.

Glass Half Full demo in Louisiana.
Photograph: Franziska Trautmann/ Glass Half Full

Glass Half Full wasn’t in a position to bounce into coastal restoration instantly, however final 12 months it acquired a grant of $700,000 to assist them examine whether or not their recycled sand would work in pure environments. Louisiana’s fast shoreline erosion presents a mess of points for the state. For the reason that Thirties, the state has misplaced sufficient land to make up the complete state of Delaware, in accordance with shoreline restoration nonprofit Mississippi River Delta. Plenty of components have worsened the problem over time, together with oil and gasoline drilling alongside the coast and the various tropical storms which have pummeled the state.

The sand created from the recycled bottles is beneficial for a number of local weather resilience wants, like filling sandbags to carry tarps onto a house with out having to make use of nails that would later rip materials. Coarse sand may be put again into pure coastal areas which have eroded. Reinforcing the shoreline with recycled sand can forestall flooding from going farther inland.

“The coarse sand is what we’re utilizing for restoration initiatives as a result of it won’t erode as shortly. It received’t get suspended within the water column, so the coarse sand is simply actually good for these initiatives,” Trautmann defined.

This previous weekend, they accomplished their first demonstration of how their pulverized glass bottle sand might be used alongside Louisiana’s shoreline. A TikTok video exhibits the co-founders, group members, and volunteers out earlier than dawn. Finishing the demo took 12,000 kilos of recycled glass and 35 volunteers. They labored to put in a gravel drain and planted native crops within the recycled glass sand, in a collaboration with the native Pointe-au-Chien tribe.

Bottle recycling operation.

Bottle recycling operation.
Photograph: Franziska Trautmann/Glass Half Full

“That was all the time a objective since we began the undertaking. We have been like ‘oh, we are able to flip the glass into sand’…. [it’s] so needed for coastal restoration,” she mentioned.

Their glass repurposing operation began in a yard and moved to a small warehouse, however elevated demand has prompted them to take over a 40,000-square-foot warehouse constructed on a former landfill. It’s run by simply six workers, together with the founders, and there are over 1,000 volunteers who help with bottle assortment.

Trautmann estimates that they pulverize about 100,000 kilos of glass per 30 days, they usually anticipate that to extend quickly. Glass Half Full encourages locals to drop off their glass at hubs without cost, they usually supply a month-to-month pickup service to companies for a payment. The objective is to hopefully increase throughout the state and to associate with organizations and native businesses that need to deal with waste administration and Louisiana’s erosion drawback.

Now that their glass has been cleared for pure environments, Trautmann envisions a bigger employees and extra volunteers for even bigger collaborations and demos. With the primary demo behind them, Glass Half Full desires to push for extra coastal restoration initiatives that can assist shield the state their operation calls residence.

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