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Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021

A Return to Recycling?

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Learning from past shortcomings

In the fall of last year, Shreveport’s recycling collection contract expired after the private companies negotiating the renewal of that contract requested changes that were not in the city’s interest. The city subsequently issued a request for proposals for recycling collection, which drew no responsive bids. The city then issued a second request for proposals, in response to which it received five submissions. Those proposals are currently under review by the city’s purchasing department. I hope that we will be able to resume recycling collection in the second quarter of 2021.

It is essential from my perspective that our new recycling program achieve three principal goals.

First, we should collect only the recyclable materials that will actually be recycled. One significant problem with the recycling program that ended last fall was that a large percentage of the materials collected — glass, for example – was not recycled. Instead, it was turned into sludge and dumped at a landfill in DeSoto Parish. There is no reason we should continue to waste citizens’ time and money in this manner.

Second, the agreement we make with the company or companies that provide our recycling services should require their best efforts to recycle as much material as possible and regular reporting to verify the volume of recyclable material collected, the types and quantities of materials actually recycled, and the revenues generated by the sale of those materials. The agreement that expired last fall only required the company with which the city partnered to collect the contents of the blue recycling cans we all have at our homes. It did not require reporting to verify what was actually recycled – and in fact, it did not require the company that collected the contents of the blue cans to recycle anything.

Third, we must negotiate a deal for recycling that is as financially advantageous from the city’s perspective as possible. The deal that fell through last fall included a private company’s request for a 10-year reduction on its water and sewer rates worth more than $25 million. We can have recycling without making unreasonable financial concessions to the private companies involved.

The administration and the city council recognize how important recycling is, and we are all committed to giving our city the opportunity to do its part for the environment. I look forward to working with my colleagues and Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins to resume this critical service.

John Nickelson is the Shreveport City Council representative for District C.

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