The Louisiana coastline has undergone significant erosion in the last century, and one method of restoration involves rebuilding landforms and protecting areas with sand. Unfortunately, the world is simultaneously experiencing a massive shortage of the material—it’s the most-extracted and second most-used resource in the world—so it’s essential to find new, innovative methods of procuring the substance.
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Glass Half Full, one of the largest recyclers of the material in Louisiana, is working toward this goal by turning bottles and other waste back into their original, granular form. On a visit from Business Insider, Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz, who co-founded the organization while in college, tour the facility that already processes an astounding 16 metric tons of glass per week. The substance is crushed and sorted into gravel-sized chunks, a fine powdery material, and a coarse grind, the latter of which is shipped to wetlands and habitats for use in restoration efforts. Thanks to a National Science Foundation, Glass Half Full even collaborated with Tulane University scientists to ensure that the reused material doesn’t leach harmful chemicals into the water and can sustain plant life.