In September, the city touted the return of glass recycling to the French Quarter and Central Business District after a decade-long absence. But so far, almost no one is using the $60,000 program.
Only 35 or 40 of the roughly 4,000 eligible properties are now taking advantage of the program, Sanitation Director Cynthia Sylvain-Lear told a City Council committee this week.
“We should be embarrassed and ashamed of ourselves for not taking better advantage of this recycling program,” Councilwoman Stacy Head said, arguing that recycling bottles is a responsibility of residents “as a citizen of this city and an inhabitant of this world.”
The return of glass recycling downtown has been promoted as a prelude to a city-wide program that could start when trash contracts covering other areas come up for renewal at the end of this year. But so far residents have not been responding to notices calling on them to separate out their bottles, Sylvain-Lear said.
“It’s still in its infant stage,” she said.
Glass is collected on Thursdays from CBD addresses that get city trash service. The glass must be placed in a blue bin and separated from other recycling — which is collected on Tuesdays in those areas — because broken glass can contaminate other materials.
Once collected, the glass is hauled to Pearl River, Mississippi, where it is processed into road construction materials.
City officials have said glass recycling returned five years after other types of recycling in the city because there is not much demand for the material. But they’ve also argued that widespread use of the recycling program can save the city money. By recycling bottles, the city reduces the tonnage of trash that goes into the River Birch Landfill, which charges the city based on the weight of garbage dumped there.
Overall, the city is saving about $1 million through all its recycling programs, Sylvain-Lear said.
Head said she would call on French Quarter groups to do a better job getting residents to recycle and would take a personal interest in the matter.
“My friends live there, they drink a lot of wine — it’s a lot of bottles,” she said.
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