How Beer Is Helping Strengthen Louisiana’s Wetlands

Glass bottle recycling can go a long way

Beer bottles in the sand
Turns out beer can help make beaches better.
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Odds are good that you’ve been hearing more and more about recycling lately — whether it’s the ongoing controversy around plastic or the growing market for reusable packaging. But one thing that’s generally not in the dialogue surrounding recycling is something a little more overtly environmental, which is to say: its literal impact on the landscape. Not in terms of pollution or recycling facilities, but using recycled materials to actually change the geography of a particular reguon.

Specifically, a region where soil erosion is an existential concern: the Mississippi River Delta. At the New York Times, Cara Buckley chronicled the work being done by Glass Half Full, a company that began when its founders — then students at Tulane — realized that the city did not offer a curbside option for glass recycling.

New Orleans has an astonishingly high number of bars, breweries and wineries per capita — the highest such concentration in the nation, as of 2022. All of that meant that a lot of glass that could be recycled was instead heading to landfills. Now, Glass Half Full is the sole glass recycling center in the city — and recently received a

Buckley writes that the company’s crushed glass has been used for a host of purposes, including “disaster-relief sandbags, terrazzo flooring, landscaping, wetland restoration and research.” Analysis of the glass sand shows that it’s relatively clean — suggesting that it’s safe for any wildlife that might look to make its habitat there.

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Some of the experts Buckley spoke with noted that the work Glass Half Full is doing is only one part of a larger environmental protection effort — something the founders acknowledge. (And as recent history has shown, just adding sand to an at-risk space isn’t always enough to preserve it.) But it’s hard to argue with an initiative that’s reducing waste in landfills and contributing to some environmental restoration.


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