2.12.2009

Recycling in NOLA - Or the Lack Thereof

One of my roommates washes his bottles out each week.  Plastic, glass, he rinses them all at the sink.  He places them on the floor next to the garbage bin in the kitchen, amidst the gathered transparent, anxious crowd.  My empty frappuccino bottles and grape juice containers stare up emptily at us, too.  But it's no use.  

More than three years after Katrina, we still don't have municipal recycling in New Orleans.

Fortunately, private services like Phoenix Recycling offer a curbside recycling option for those who can afford it.  Local garbage company SDT is also considering launching recycling service - our household received a potential contract to sign.  In reviewing it, I noticed something odd, though.

SDT wouldn't accept glass items in its proposed recycling program.

Curious, I checked out the Phoenix website, and that company, too, lists the unavailability of a glass processor facility - "there are virtually no markets in this part of the country" - as the reason it does not accept what is commonly presumed to be a recyclable material.  The Green Project down in the Bywater also doesn't take glass.  Given the imbalances in the waste glass market, it's not surprising that the viability of glass crushing programs has suffered and prevented companies from offering certain services.

In my searching, however, I came across this that's-so-crazy-it-just-might-or-might-not-work idea proposed by Phoenix:

Now, Phoenix wants to find money and a facility to pulverize its own glass, and then sell the product to the Army Corps of Engineers for use in federally and state-financed wetland restoration projects, says director of business development Steven O'Connor.

The numbers cited in the piece are interesting, but I would still want to see a full feasibility study.  Another option - which still might require the threshold step of grinding - would be to utilize the proximity to the Port of New Orleans to export the material via ship or barge in great bulk to some other locale.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to wonder where the contents of various campus recycling bins ultimately end up...