That empty glass wine bottle or jar of pasta sauce in your kitchen could become sand used in sandbags to protect against flooding thanks to a new partnership between Lafayette Consolidated Government and a local business in glass recycling.
BackYard Sapphire, the local glass recycling business started by Tina Crapsi and Dawn Vincent last year, has partnered with Lafayette Consolidated Government to supply sand made from crushed glass to sandbag sites around the city. -parish.
The operation plans to supply between a ton and a ton and a half of sand to the parish town each month. BackYard Sapphire currently diverts approximately two tons of glass per month from landfills and reuses it; having a dedicated endpoint for most of their products will allow them to absorb more glass, Crapsi said.
Crapsi and Vincent began their operation in the backyard of their Lafayette home in February 2021 with a focus on turning glass into mulch and pebbles for the garden or decoration.
The couple added a machine that crushes glass into sand in November after finding the glass mulch market was too limited to offload the amount of glass they were taking in. They started piling the sand in their garden, mastering the production cycle while learning how to better market the sand and find buyers.
Enter Lafayette Consolidated Government. Sand purchased from BackYard Sapphire will be used to fill sandbags at the Dean Domingues Composting Facility at 400 Dugas Road, just in time for hurricane season, LCG announced.
Mulch now represents a smaller part of BackYard Sapphire’s business, but the duo said they wanted to have a diverse line of products made from their recycled glass and were constantly considering opportunities for growth. Their mulch is currently sold in about five local stores, Vincent said.
“We want to have as many opportunities to reuse glass in any way. Whatever desire someone expresses to us, if we can make it happen, that’s what we’re going to do. The goal is to use it somehow,” she said.
Besides a larger potential sales market, the sand is also more efficient to produce than glass mulch, they said.
Creating the glass mulch involves soaking the bottles in a baking soda solution to remove the labels, crushing the glass, then sifting the product to sort it into different size categories for sale. Meanwhile, the sand machine can accept the bottles with the labels and the grinding time is shorter, Vincent said.
“We take the waste out of the community and put it back into a new product to use in the community. The excitement of having that full circle of sustainability within a 5 mile radius – it’s like a home run in the goal of recycling and upcycling,” said Crapsi.
Bess Foret, environmental quality supervisor for LCG, said the partnership is a win for everyone – it provides LCG with a needed product, helps a local business expand its operations and helps divert waste from the city. parish and to reuse them locally.
Reducing the volume of local waste entering the landfill is an ongoing goal of his department, the supervisor said. Lafayette’s waste is currently trucked to Wales, approximately 50 miles away, for disposal at the Republic Services landfill, resulting in significant trucking costs and additional environmental impact from transporting the materials. .
Lafayette does not currently offer glass recycling. Glass recycling was phased out in 2016 when recycling contracts were renegotiated, and glass recycling infrastructure is very limited in the state. Some basic operationslike BackYard Sapphire, are now taking root, but other than them, the closest major processing facility is in Houston, Foret said.
When she took over, Foret said she was keeping an eye out for alternatives that could get glass back into the recycling mix in some form.
“As soon as I heard about it, I knew it was a good thing for Lafayette. I think it also causes other people to think outside the box for different ways of thinking about eliminating things , where our waste goes, what’s going on with it, and how we can better deal with it. Waste management is important to our community,” Foret said.
BackYard Sapphire sand will only represent a small portion of total LCG sand purchases for sandbags and related needs, but it’s a starting point with room for growth, Foret said.
“It is very enriching to visit with [LCG’s environmental quality team] and realize that we all aspire to the same thing. We protect the environment we live in in every way possible,” Vincent said.
BackYard Sapphire offers curbside pickup services for Lafayette area residents and businesses and has a twice-weekly drop-off site at the Fightingville Fresh Market at 315 West Simcoe Street.