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Morial Convention Center Pilots Bead Recycling Program for Mardi Gras 2023

Anthony Rainey and Temeka Estem, Facility Operations staff, collect beads for recycling. Image courtesy of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center.

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Convention Center (NOENMCC) partnered with local nonprofit ARC of Greater New Orleans to pilot a new bead recycling program during the 2023 Mardi Gras season. The recycling initiative is part of a city-wide effort to reduce the amount of waste typically produced by Mardi Gras parades.

Three krewes – Endymion, Bacchus and Orpheus – ended their parades with formal Gala Balls as floats rolled inside the Convention Center. Following the festivities, Convention Center cleaning crews collected beads thrown inside the facility.

After collecting approximately 2,400 pounds of beads and “throws,” NOENMCC team members sent them to ARC of Greater New Orleans, an organization that creates jobs for people with intellectual disabilities by having them sort and repackage Carnival beads and throws. ARC’s Mardi Gras Bead Store will resell the beads in future years, which helps support several market-wage, year-round jobs in the New Orleans Metro Area.

“This bead recycling initiative is part of the Convention Center’s ongoing commitment to sustainability,” said Convention Center President Michael J. Sawaya. “If there is something we can do to help reduce the amount of waste generated by Mardi Gras parades, we’re going to do it. We are proud to be part of the city-wide initiative working to reduce the environmental impact of Mardi Gras.”

The City of New Orleans organized a new “Recycle Dat” initiative this year, expanding recycling and bead collection along the parade route and encouraging more parades to use sustainable throws. As part of the parade route for three major krewes, the NOENMCC piloted programs to support this initiative and expand recycling programs inside the facility.

In 2022, the NOENMCC earned a gold-level LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and it continues to expand its year-round recycling program for attendees and exhibitors. The facility provides multiple recycling areas in the front-of-the-house areas and dedicated collection areas for cardboard, metal, and plastic in the back-of-house areas. The NOENMCC diverted over 450,000 lbs. of material from landfills through its recycling programs in 2022.

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