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Episode 164: Saving Shorelines & Recycling with Glass Half Full

Meet Franziska Trautmann, CEO and co-founder of Glass Half Full NOLA, which diverts used glass products from landfills and ultimately converts them into sand products. In this NothingWasted! episode, we spoke with her about the power of combining glass recycling with coastal restoration efforts, the importance of community involvement, and more!

Liz Bothwell

September 12, 2022

Meet Franziska Trautmann, CEO and co-founder of Glass Half Full NOLA, which diverts used glass products from landfills and ultimately converts them into sand products. In this NothingWasted! episode, we spoke with her about the power of combining glass recycling with coastal restoration efforts, the importance of community involvement, and more!

Here is a glimpse into our discussion…

Waste360: Could you tell us about your journey so far?

Trautmann: I’ve lived in Louisiana my entire life and have always heard about our coastal erosion crisis where we are losing 100 yards of land every 100 minutes off of our coast. But it wasn’t until I got to Tulane and met my co-founder, Max, that I really got to think more deeply about our waste and recycling issues. Growing up here, I didn’t have access to much recycling or curbside recycling, but Max—being from New York City—was used to those things, and it really opened my eyes. During our senior year, we decided to do something about the lack of glass recycling here in New Orleans.

Waste360: Tell us more about your process and what you’ve achieved so far.

Trautmann: We stared in 2020, while we were still in college. It started in a backyard, and we were just recycling glass any way we could. We purchased a very small machine that could turn one bottle into sand at a time, and we functioned from there for four or five months until we could steadily grow and expand. Now we are recycling 150,000 pounds per month. We’re in an actual facility—a 40,000 square foot facility right in New Orleans. We created 10 jobs and are steadily expanding because the demand for glass recycling throughout the region is so immense. Showing people what we do and how we do it really excites people because they see it’s turning into something that’s benefiting the community.

Waste360: How does your business model work?

Trautmann: Most of our revenue is on the front end through collections. We operate a residential pickup collection as well as a commercial pickup collection. Both of those programs bring in revenue, which allows us to also operate our free drop-off service where anyone can come and drop glass off for free, and we’ll turn it into a usable product that we can sell—or donate, in some cases, like disaster-relief sandbags and for coastal restoration projects.

Waste360: How does your National Science Grant work?

Trautmann: In partnership with Tulane University, we applied for the grant through their convergence accelerator program. They want groundbreaking research that can be turned into a sustainable business model. We just completed the first year with the grant, and we essentially proved the safety and viability of using recycled glass sand for coastal restoration in Louisiana. The goal for the next two years is to expand that research into other environments like beaches in Florida and Texas, and seeing where else this novel research and technology can be applied.

Listen to the full episode here.

#NothingWastedPodcast

About the Author(s)

Liz Bothwell

Head of Content & Marketing, Waste360

Liz Bothwell is head of content and marketing for Waste360, proud host of the NothingWasted! Podcast, and ghostwrites for others to keep her skills sharp and creative juices flowing. She loves family, football, her French bulldogs, and telling stories that can help to make the world a more sustainable place.

Follow her on Linkedin or Twitter

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