Coming Full Circle: Recycling Can Be Reused for Local Business Opportunities By Cassie McClure July 16, 2021

Headline: Coming Full Circle: Recycling Can Be Reused for Local Business Opportunities

Submitted by South Central Solid Waste Authority

Date: 7.16.21 Bulletin

Recycling in Las Cruces has a transportation problem: How does what gets put in the blue bin get to a place where it can be reused or remade?

“The best bet would be if our recycling could get a second life in Las Cruces or Doña Ana County,” explained Patrick Peck, director of South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA). “If local businesses stepped up to create a new industry from material previously used, it could strengthen our circular economy.”

A circular economy is when recyclables that originate in our region can be reused or remade into products to be sold and purchased again, a regenerative approach instead of the traditional linear economy where the mindset is single-use. For every load of clean recycling that could be kept local, the cost of transportation is saved, particularly since Las Cruces is far away from processing plants.

Currently, local recycled materials are transferred into 18-wheel trucks and hauled 40 miles to Friedman Recycling in El Paso — the only recycling processor within 250 miles of Las Cruces. The gas, the drivers, all parts of the open-loop that eats up the recycling value that could stay in the city.

However, there are efforts to make use of the recycled material. Local business owner Gabriel Lopez is an example of a member of the circular economy. Lopez takes the recycled glass that is given away free at SCSWA to grind up for his pressure washer. The glass becomes like sand and a way to clean things like graffiti and calcified tiles that are 100 percent green by using no chemicals.

“These are the business initiatives that will increase the value of our own recycled material,” Peck said. “If other entrepreneurs can solve a need with things like clean corrugated cardboard, aluminum or plastic, we can have our own circle that promotes not only a green lifestyle but green businesses.”

South Central Solid Waste Authority manages solid waste and recyclables for residents and businesses throughout Doña Ana County. Contact SCSWA at (575) 528-3800 or visit

Caption: A circular economy of glass: local business owner Gabriel Lopez uses the free recycled glass in his pressure washing machine. If local businesses can use recycled cardboard, aluminum, or plastic, Las Cruces could keep the value of its recycling at home. Top to bottom: Lopez takes the glass from the Recycling Center and grinds it up to both medium and fine grit.