When Houston ended glass recycling this 8-year-old saw a healthy business opportunity

Eight-year-old Tristan “Pan” Berlanga never dreamed of starting his own business. “I’ve always wanted to be a basketball player,” he says as he and his business partner, 28-year-old David Krohn, drive through a neighborhood in Houston’s Old Sixth Ward.

Krohn slows the truck down, reading the house numbers out loud. The bed of his new pickup truck is already littered with empty beer and wine bottles loosely packed in boxes and bags. They stop in front of a gray house with a big double driveway and leave the truck running as they walk around the back. Moments later Pan returns wrestling a paper bag almost as big as he is. It’s filled with glass bottles. You can hear them clinking against each other as he hauls his load to the truck. “There is a lot more back there,” he says a little out of breath. “We could use your help.”

“We didn’t even know what we were going to do with the glass when we started.”

Pan and Krohn started their company, Hauling Glass, in April after the city of Houston decided to cut glass recycling from its curbside pickup program. Krohn, a friend of Pan’s family, came over one night talking about how the city was going to stop picking up glass. “I told David, why don’t we pick it up ourselves,” the third grader said. “And that’s how it started.”

With help from friends and family, the team goes door to door in Krohn’s pickup, collecting glass, and bringing it to an empty lot owned by Pan’s father. “Things just grew organically,” Krohn said. “We didn’t even know what we were going to do with the glass when we started.”

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