Lafayette City-Parish Council approves recycling contract without going to public bid _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- A Progressive Waste Solutions worker prepares to dump a residential recycling container into the collection truck Tuesday, March 22, 2016, on Dicarlo Drive in Lafayette, La.

Every home in the city of Lafayette will receive new recycling carts in the coming weeks, but glass will no longer be accepted under a new recycling contract the Lafayette City-Parish Council approved Tuesday.

The new contract, which keeps the monthly recycling fee at $2.40 in the short term, also calls for residential garbage pickup and recycling pickup to come on the same day, as opposed to the staggered pick-up some residents now have.

The council voted 8-1 to approve the new contract, despite concerns that city-parish government did not put the service out to public bid.

The new recycling contract is with Republic Services, which already has the contract for Lafayette’s trash service and takes over recycling next month from current contractor Progressive Waste Solutions.

As part of the deal, Republic Services received a 5-year extension on its more lucrative garbage contract with the city, pushing the end date from 2018 to 2023.

Councilman William Theriot, the only “no” vote Tuesday, said both the recycling contract and the garbage contract should have gone out to bid.

City-parish government last year sought proposals for a new recycling contract but ultimately rejected all of the responses and instead negotiated a deal with Republic Services, which offered the lowest recycling rate.

Chris Schouest, with Acadiana Waste Services, told council members that other companies should have had the opportunity to pitch a proposal for a combined recycling and garbage contract.

City-parish officials last year said they were exploring the possibility of expanding curbside recycling to rural areas of the parish, but the contract approved Tuesday keeps recycling within the city limits.

City-Parish Public Works Director Tom Carroll said even the bottom-end proposal for providing weekly curbside recycling outside in rural areas would have more than doubled the monthly recycling fee to $5.10 per household because of the increased expense of longer collection routes in more sparsely populated rural areas.

Greg Guidroz, who oversees environmental awareness initiatives at the Bayou Vermilion District, asked the council to at least consider some form of rural curbside collection, even it was every other week instead of weekly.

“The outskirts are not so rural any more,” he said.

Rural residents will have the option to bring their recyclables to a drop-off center in the Scott area.

Guidroz also questioned the decision to have recyclables and trash collection on the same day using similar 96-gallon carts, saying residents and pick-up crews might confuse the two.

Collecting recyclables on the same day as trash also “might raise suspicion that (the material) is not going into the recycling stream,” Guidroz said.

There was little discussion Tuesday on the elimination of glass from the recycling program, which follows a trend seen in many other cities.

Carroll said there is no longer a market for recycled glass, which is heavy to transport and difficult to process.

“It’s really a tricky business right now,” Carroll said.

Carroll said all residents should receive new 96-gallon recycling carts by May 2.

The recycling carts will have a different color lid than the trash carts.

Under the current contract, recycling carts are given out by request. Only 19,000 of the 38,000 eligible households have recycling carts, even though all eligible households pay for the service, according to information from city-parish government.

Carroll said he suspects delivering a cart to every eligible household will increase recycling rates.

The monthly recycling fee will remain at $2.40 per household until November 2017, when it could go up based on inflation using a formula tied the Consumer Price Index.

Annual rate increases would be capped at 8 percent.