The glass is half empty for recycling: New city program will not take bottles or jars

By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

As you clean up from the first weekend of Jazz Fest, you may be tempted to toss the empty glass bottles into the recycling bin, along with the newspapers and plastics.

You need to fight that temptation.

Glass is not accepted in the city’s recycling program that starts this week.

The literature from the city isn’t explicit about what’s not accepted, though it does spell out in great detail what they’re taking, including different kinds of cardboard, plastic numbered 1 through 7 and all manner of printed material.

Though glass isn’t allowed, the two trash contractors offering the service are taking far more than was allowed before Katrina. Previously, junk mail wasn’t eligible, nor were plastics beyond those numbered 1 or 2.

But for the environmentally conscious who have been contracting with Phoenix Recycling recently, it’s not a change at all.

“There are no markets in the area for glass recycling,” explained Phoenix’s David McDonough.

Dar Wolnik, a Fortin Street resident, plans to participate in the new curbside program but hopes that city “would also encourage the state to enact a bottle bill to encourage manufactures to recycle glass rather than seeing it added to the program.”

She said the amount of room glass takes up “makes it important to practice reuse and reduce before attempting recycling.”

With much fanfare, the city rolled out a recycling program that included registering for a black 64-gallon cart. Some neighborhoods voiced concerns that the carts would be too large, and the administration decided to let residents use their old blue recycling bins.

Recycling is being offered by Metro Disposal and Richard’s Disposal, who serve most of the city. SDT Waste & Debris, which serves the French Quarter and the Central Business District, is not providing recycling.

More than four days’ worth of registration information was lost because of computer problems, and residents are encouraged to ensure that they’ve registered.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • JBS

    Just to make sure its out there, Target in Metairie (and probably the Westbank, too) accepts glass for recycling. They have a nationwide program, so they don’t have to rely on in-state capabilities. We usually just pile it in the car whenever we have to brave Clearview to visit the in-laws.

    Also, I had heard something about Tulane accepting glass for art students projects… Not sure of any details, though.

  • Ricardo

    The glass studio at Tulane also accepts clear and coloured glass.

  • Michelle

    When I saw my friends’ new recycling container on their Facebook feed, I just about teared up. Can’t wait to get back to New Orleans and get my own!

  • I seem to remember a few years back that price of new glass dropped so low that recycling no longer made economic sense. Is that still the issue here? Or is there another reason that area recycling plants aren’t accepting glass?

  • NoraDeirdre

    Quick question: when do they pick up recycling? Do we need to sort anything? We put our bin out on Sunday night with plastic and paper/cardboard in there, and it still hasn’t been collected. Are we Doing It Wrong?