• INNOVATION BARN: New development to turn Charlotte's trash to treasure

    By: Mark Barber

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte is a city built on banks but city leaders believe it can become the first place in the country to build its economy around trash.

    A new development is opening on Seigle Avenue later this year that could turn your trash into everything from bricks to leather to phone cases.

    [ALSO READ: City of Charlotte looks to become global sustainability leader through Circular Charlotte]

    Channel 9 toured the site on Friday morning.

    The building used to be known as the city's old horse barn but soon it will be called the city's Innovation Barn.

    "It's going to transform Charlotte. It's going to be such a unique experience," said Amy Aussieker with Envision Charlotte.

    She leads the nonprofit heading up the development that will turn Charlotte's trash into treasure.

    The vision imagines labs that will create leather from fruit peels and 3D printers that will turn plastics into phone cases and building bricks.

    Soldier flies will break down waste behind a glass case and food will be harvested from a garden for a restaurant and a beer garden.

    "There's opportunities and resources for jobs and economic mobility all within our trash, which is kind of crazy," Aussieker said.

    The European-style plans might be hard for some to imagine but neighbors told us they are on board.

    "I think it's really important to utilize everything we're going to waste," said Dee Imbert.

    Brandon Wheeler said, "I think that's great."

    [ALSO READ: Charlotte approves environmental sustainability resolution]

    The Innovation Barn will be a model for Charlotte's grand plans to become the first city in the U.S. to become trash-free.

    By 2050, Charlotte plans to take the 400,000 tons of trash that is thrown away every year and turn it into reusable products, such as uniforms and linens.

    City leaders believe the Innovation Barn is the first bold step forward, so it's already invested $2 million in the project.

    "There are opportunities with trash. We can create jobs, we can create products and Charlotte can be known for that," Aussieker said.

    UNC Charlotte is one of the groups that will be working out of the new labs.

    The development is on track to open before the end of 2019.

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