Lafayette’s bottles and jars soon may be heading to the landfill rather than the recycling center.
City-parish government is considering a new recycling contract that excludes glass from curbside collection, a cost-savings measure being instituted, or at least explored, across the country.
East Baton Rouge Parish toyed with the idea last year but ultimately changed course, opting instead to increase fees.
Lafayette City-Parish Public Works Director Tom Carroll said there is no longer a market for recycled glass, and few recycling companies are willing to handle the material any more.
“We all want to be green. We all want to be environmentally conscious. But there is just no market for it,” he said.
The City-Parish Council is set to vote April 5 on the new contract, but the proposed changes could come up for discussion at the March 22 council meeting.
The proposed contract also calls for residential garbage pick up and recycling pickup to come on the same day and for every home to receive a recycling cart.
Under the current contract, recycling carts are given out by request, but only about 19,000 of the 38,000 eligible households have recycling carts, even though all households eligible for recycling pay a monthly fee for the service, Carroll said.
“We will provide recycling carts to every customer,” he said. “Obviously, it’s to encourage recycling.”
Lafayette’s recycling contract has been with the Recycling Foundation since the city’s recycling program began in the 1980s.
The company recently was bought by national waste hauler Progressive Waste Solutions.
City-parish officials last year announced plans to explore other options for recycling, and the proposed contract is with Republic Services, which already has the contract for regular trash collection in Lafayette.
There were discussions last year of possibly expanding recycling services to rural areas and apartment complexes, but the proposed contract makes no provisions for expansion.
Carroll said offering the service to rural areas would have been prohibitively expensive because rural homes are more spread out and would require much longer collection routes.
Offering the service at apartment complexes is problematic because of the liability of workers going on private property, he said.
The contract calls for Republic to operate a recycling center where apartment dwellers or others without service can drop off recycling.
Under the proposed recycling contract, the monthly recycling fee would remain at $2.40 per household until November 2017, when Republic could raise the rates based on inflation using a formula tied the Consumer Price Index.
The old contract also allowed for adjustment due to the inflation, but the new contract caps annual increases at 8 percent.
Republic also would be allowed to raise rates based on any increases in the minimum wage.
The recycling contract would be in place until 2023, and as part of the deal, city-parish government would agree to extend Republic’s contract for regular garbage service from 2018 to 2023.
The revised and extended trash contract also would cap annual rate increases for garbage service at 8 percent.