Recycling solutions in New Orleans
Finding a recycling service that is right for you can sometimes be tricky. Check out this helpful collection of recycling resources information.
Friday, August 20, 2010 - 17:15
For those living in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, finding a service that will accept most of your household recyclables has never been easier.
There are two companies, Phoenix Recycling and SDT Waste and Debris Services, that provide monthly recycling services, not to mention the handful of recycling events held throughout the year by various community organizations, universities and so forth. But I say "most of" your household recyclables because neither Phoenix nor SDT accepts glass, plastic grocery bags, aluminum foil or scrap metal.
I recently attended a "Night Out Against Crime" function held on the corner of Magazine Street and Napoleon, and as I was standing in line for a free hotdog, I happened to pass in front of the recycling information booth that Phoenix Recycling set up. The three women working the booth were handing out fliers with information about Phoenix's services and talking to passersby about the like.
The flier that one of them handed me neatly listed which materials they would accept and which they wouldn't. The last material listed on the flier was glass — in all caps, bold face, highlighted, too — and read, "WE CANNOT TAKE GLASS OF ANY KIND." I was taken aback when I read this, not just because it was a bit too visually intrusive, but because of how crestfallen the three women working in the booth seemed to be as I neared the bottom line of the flier, not to mention the that I was also irked by the sensation that three people were watching me read. The rest of the flier read, "We had to stop in November of 2008 due to lack of markets in the region. It's a problem nationwide. We are working on it."
"Hmph," I shrugged. I opted their way, "Well what if ..."
They were ready though: " ... if we just truck or ship them to a farther-off recycling site?"
My look said it all.
"Because the fuel expenditure and emissions that driving or shipping generates would undermine the idea behind recycling, plus it wouldn't be cost effective, either," they explained.
We ended up comparing this approach to the "Seinfeld" episode where Kramer talks Newman into letting him borrow his mail truck for an out-of-state Mellow Yellow bottle recycling trip. Good times.
As the line moved on, I bid the ladies at the Phoenix Recycling tent "adieu" and eventually reveled in the delights of my free hotdog.
New Orleans recyclers
But on my walk home, the question came to me: "What other recycling options does one have in this city?" So I did some research. The City of New Orleans hasn't provided curbside recycling services since Katrina, and Phoenix Recycling was the only company offering regularly scheduled material pickup, but as of March 1, 2010, SDT Waste and Debris Services also includes recycling pickup of approved household materials.
Phoenix Recycling offers its services in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany and St. Charles parishes, and will make two monthly pickups for $12.50 (if you pay for a year in advance, otherwise it's $15 a month for the same service) and will accept plastic containers #1 through #7, aluminum or bi-metal (tin) cans, paper and cardboard.
For $11.75 a month, SDT will pick up the same materials in New Orleans, Livingston, Baton Rouge, St. Bernard, Jefferson, St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, St. Charles Parish, Plaquemines Parish and St. John Parish.
Regretfully, neither of these companies accepts plastic grocery bags and other plastic packaging materials, Styrofoam, metal pans, wire hangers, scrap metal, foil, food trays, aluminum siding, frozen food packages and plastic ring beverage carriers, paint, hazardous waste or medical waste. Oh, and did I mention, NO GLASS?
This list of materials that won't be accepted by the city's leading recycling companies is quite large, but there are still other alternatives for recycling some of those household materials. Occasionally a university, civic group or church group will hold a recycling event that will accept certain materials from the "non-acceptables" list, but you have to keep your ears open for those events because they sometimes occur without much warning.
This is also a good time to mention The Green Project, "a nonprofit building supply retail store dedicated to creatively promoting and encouraging environmental sustainability in New Orleans," as the website's homepage reads. If you have just remodeled your house and have leftover materials such as lumber, trim, plywood, doors, windows, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, tubs, sinks and toilets, the Green Project will accept them if they are in decent condition. The Green Project also recycles the standard fare of aluminum and steel cans, newspaper and magazines and cardboard. The company also offers electronics recycling for computers, radios and cellphones. A full list of what The Green Project will and won’t accept can be found here, and also, once again, no glass.
For more information regarding recycling in New Orleans in general, a helpful document can be found here.