Lafayette considering expanding recycling to apartments, rural residents _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Collectors for Recycling Foundation, Inc. pick up residents' recycling waste on Howard Street Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Lafayette, La.

City-parish government is considering changes to local recycling services that could include expanding to rural areas and apartment complexes.

The City-Parish Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to end its current contract with the Recycling Foundation, which has provided recycling services in the city since the 1980s.

The Recycling Foundation could re bid for the new contract, but City-Parish Public Works Director Kevin Blanchard said the idea is to start negotiations fresh and open the process to other firms.

“We have a lot of demands for improved recycling services,” he said.

Key among them, he said, is offering recycling services to residents outside of the city of Lafayette and to apartment dwellers.

Apartments receive recycling service only if the owner of the building negotiates a separate contract for recycling with a private company. Rural residents have no curbside recycling.

Still undetermined is whether a new contract could mean higher rates.

All city residents pay $2.41 a month for recycling, whether they take advantage of the service or not.

City-Parish Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley said the current rate could be the best deal, but it’s tough to know until proposals are shopped around to other companies.

The terms of the 10-year contract have been in effect since 2006.

“It’s been a long time, and sometimes it makes sense to test the market and see what’s out there,” Stanley said.

He also said negotiations could involve talk of removing glass from the recycling stream, a cost-savings measure recently considered but ultimately rejected in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Glass is among the most expensive materials to recycle, because it is heavy to transport and hard to market, Stanley said.

The contract with the Recycling Foundation does not end until February, but the terms of the agreement call for an automatic 10-year renewal if city-parish government does not give notice of termination at least 180 days before the contract ends.

The provision caught some council members off guard.

“Let the record reflect that was before this council was in there. That’s crazy,” said Council Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux.

The Recycling Foundation was bought by national waste hauler Progressive Waste Solutions in 2011.

The company also provides curbside recycling services in East Baton Rouge Parish, Youngsville, Zachary, Hammond and Ponchatoula.