- Only 35 to 40 eligible households and small businesses in New Orleans’s French Quarter and Downtown Development District — out of 4,062 — are recycling glass, despite a voluntary program encouraging them to do so. The low rate translates to monthly costs of $123 per participant for the service provided by Empire Janitorial Sales & Services, who also picks up the area’s trash and recycling. Bars, hotels, restaurants, and multi-family buildings with more than four units are excluded from the program, as are business with more than 35 gallons of garbage per pickup.
- The city's contract with Empire rose from a $2.27 monthly recycling charge per unit to $3.50 per unit when glass was added to the stream for a total of $170,604 per month for all recycling collections.
- Cynthia Sylvain-Lear, the city's sanitation director, is considering implementing a citywide campaign with the Young Leadership Council to raise awareness for recycling in general, motivated by the fact that the recycling program saved the city nearly $1 million in landfill tipping fees last year.
When the city began offering glass recycling to New Orleans neighborhoods and small businesses in September, it was the reintroduction of this service for the first time since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
While Sylvain-Lear describes the new program as in its infancy, she was dismayed with the low participation levels and thinks the city can do better under the right conditions.
"Although we often hear that persons want to recycle glass, the program is most successful when everyone participates in the program," she said.
Meg Lousteau, executive director of Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates, attributes the low participation rate in part to a change that she believes affected the attitude and culture of the community.
"One of the biggest problems is the conversion of so many housing units into illegal short-term rentals," Lousteau said. "That is eroding the residential base like nothing else."