Restoring Louisiana’s Shoreline, One Glass Bottle at a Time – GIZMODO

Recycling (by RubyT via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Flickr).
Recycling (by RubyT via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Flickr).

Glass Half Full is redirecting glass from landfills and turning it into much-needed sand.

Louisiana’s shoreline is rapidly eroding due to sea level rise and extreme weather fueled by climate change. But a scrappy New Orleans glass recycling initiative, Glass Half Full, is rounding up as many of the city’s glass bottles as possible to create sand for coastal restoration.

The team, a winner of the 2023 Gizmodo Science Fair, got started in 2020, right before covid-19 disrupted life across the globe. Their goal was to make use of Louisiana’s discarded glass, which is largely not recycled. At first, cofounders Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz could only pulverize one glass bottle at a time from their backyard operation. After a successful GoFundMe campaign raised about $150,000, Glass Half Full was able to invest in larger machinery and a proper facility, and they now turn over 150,000 pounds of glass into sand per month.

According to Trautmann, using recycled glass for shoreline restoration was an early goal. But they needed help, so in 2021 they reached out to their former professors at Tulane University. Glass Half Full, Tulane University professors and students, and researchers from other universities formed ReCoast to work together on testing if recycled glass could eventually be placed onto the coast for shoreline restoration…


Related Stories and Video Clips . . .

Insider Business Video:
Two college students founded one of Louisiana’s only glass recycling companies. They’re turning glass into sand and using it for coastal restoration.

National Science Foundation Video:
ReCoast’s vision is to create coastal community recycling programs to keep glass out of landfills and instead use it for glass sand products that support coastal restoration and preservation.

PBS Newshour:
A Brief But Spectacular take on ‘glassroots’ recycling

Guardian News:
Known as ‘that sand girl’ on TikTok, 24-year-old Franziska Trautmann is trying to help restore Louisiana’s eroding coastline … with glass sand. 

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