In times of change, there are always opportunities to do well.
Where some saw rubbish, 8-year-old Pan Berlanga saw opportunity.
He launched his first business after the city of Houston and Waste Management in March negotiated a new recycling contract that cut glass from the curbside pickup program.
To recycle their glass, Houstonians now must go to recycling centers to drop off their used bottles. “People have to drive all over,” Pan said.
Or they could call Berlanga.
Pan and his brother-in-law, David Krohn, 28, now run a company they call Hauling Glass. They go door-to-door collecting glass bottles that the city’s new curbside recycling agreement leaves behind.
They now serve more than 160 households in three inner-Loop 610 ZIP codes – 77007, 77008 and 77009. Requests from residents in those Heights-area neighborhoods in the three ZIP codes and inquiries from outside those areas are flooding the business email account and phone line, they said.
Subscribers, who pay $10 a month, can either purchase a $15 bin or use their own.
Pan and Krohn also are learning logistics lessons from their fledgling business. Once every two weeks, they rev up a white 1977 Jeep Wagoneer and roll through neighborhoods to clients’ yards, staggered by ZIP code and day of the week.
They leave their loads in an industrial-size bin and warehouse just east of downtown. They’re working with major glass-recycling businesses to take the glass from there.
By picking up glass only, Krohn said they’re adding convenience for households and eliminating any extra processing those companies would have to do.
Here’s their website. Going by the requests they say they have received for this service, the 77006 ZIP code would be next in line when and if they expand. We’re signed up for their service, with the first pickup scheduled for this Thursday. Yeah, it would be nice if we all still had curbside recycling for glass, but sacrificing that (at least for now) was the sensible thing to do to keep the rest of the service. I used to haul my own glass to the now-defunct recycling dropoff location on Center Street, and to Westpark before that. I can live with this until things change again. In the meantime, kudos to Pan Berlanga for seeing things as they could be rather than how they are. If young Mr. Berlanga doesn’t already have a personal theme song, I have a suggestion for him:
Live long and prosper, sir.