Improving Resource Recovery of Organic Waste to Alleviate Environmental and Economic Problems in a Depressed Urban Environment

EPA Grant Number: SU831813
Title: Improving Resource Recovery of Organic Waste to Alleviate Environmental and Economic Problems in a Depressed Urban Environment
Investigators: Reith, Charles
Institution: Tulane University of Louisiana
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


New Orleans East is a unique area that is both ecologically and economically critical to the rest of the city due to the presence of valuable wetlands and dense industries. Several of these industries generate large amounts of organic waste, which create multiple problems. These problems include the presence of a noxious dumping site near a disenfranchised neighborhood, declining property values, and the high cost and environmental hazards of depositing this waste in landfills. The city and private sector have failed to solve these issues, leaving one undercapitalized composting facility to manage the organic waste in the area. With proper planning, management, coordination, and education, this accumulation of organic waste can be converted from a problem into a solution that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable.


Environmentally, the products created from this waste can be used to solve problems such as wetlands deterioration, and polluted air and waterways in New Orleans, through the application of innovative technology in composting and biomass energy. Economically, the diversion of organic waste from landfills will reduce the costs of transporting and depositing this waste in landfills. In addition, the organic waste will be converted into revenue-generating products whose profits can be reinvested into the local economy. Socially, this plan will promote community support and involvement in solving local problems by improving the living area surrounding the current waste disposal sites.


Several indicators will be used to monitor the effectiveness of this plan. They include measuring stakeholder participation; identifying the source, type and amount of organic waste, and increasing consumer awareness about the uses and benefits of these products. Long-term indicators will be a decrease in the accumulation of organic waste, an increase in the quality of converted organic waste, and an increase in local market demand for organic waste products.

Expected Results:

The goal of this project is to address local problems with local solutions through the creation of an integrated waste management plan. All research will be done by students in conjunction with public and private resources available in the greater New Orleans area. This project will improve the students’ understanding of local problems and help them develop skill sets to implement innovative solutions. It will also increase awareness in the Tulane community as the project will be used as a case study in classes taught in the disciplines of international development and environmental studies.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

waste reduction, restoration, industry, innovative technology, sustainable development, community-based, gulf coast, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Chemical Engineering, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, sustainable development, waste minimization, environmental sustainability, conservation, biomass, community based, energy efficiency, energy technology, alternative energy source, waste management, resource recovery, renewable resource

Relevant Websites:

Project Description

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report