Recycling could be on horizon in St. James

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2011



VACHERIE – A considerable portion of Wednesday’s St. James Parish Council meeting in Vacherie was devoted to discussions regarding the resurrection of a parishwide recycling program.

Council members, however, stopped short of signing off on any contracts with a solid waste disposal company for service, deciding instead to look into the matter further.

Councilman Elwyn Bocz, who invited representatives from solid waste disposal company IESI/SWDI to speak to the council Wednesday, said a key concern regarding a drop-off recycling program is non-recyclable garbage ending up in the dumpster-like containers.

“We are afraid that the area around the drop-off point will become a mini dump,” Bocz said. “People are going to shove crawfish heads and other junk in there.”

Steven Cheatham, a division manager at the Recycling Foundation, a recently acquired arm of IESI, said he has found that there are certainly successes and failures with any recycling program but added that the ones affiliated with a church or commercial business tend to be more successful because people are less likely to dump trash on a church site or business property.

“When the sites are on public or government property, some people get the idea that someone else, a government employee for example, will take care of the trash,” Cheatham said. “A drop-off site at a commercial property has the potential to draw people to the business. There is always someone there looking out and monitoring it.”

The parish has had no recycling program in place since before Hurricane Katrina came through the area in 2005. Frank Davis, operations manager for IESI’s River Parishes District, located in Reserve, said the company runs various recycling programs in St. John the Baptist and Terrebonne parishes.

IESI offered a proposal Wednesday that set up a $225 per bin rental fee per month on a three-year contract. The parish would also be charged a $450 per haul fee to haul full bins to the recycle facility.

If the parish chooses to purchase containers outright, there would be a $9,650 charge per container. Parish President Dale Hymel said any charges stemming from a contract would be paid for with funding already in the parish budget. There would be no cost passed on to residents.

Cheatham said IESI accepts paper, plastics, steel and aluminum but no glass at its drop-off sites. He said there is no need for residents to separate materials before dropping them off.

Hymel said he supports a recycling program but asked where the bins might be located. According to the proposal, one container would be placed at the old St. James Landfill and the other would be placed at the transfer station in Gramercy.

Bocz proposed the idea of having two bins at two public parks on the east and west banks of the parish, but there was a concern that those sites would attract garbage.

In other action, the council approved introduction of an ordinance authorizing the transfer of property to the parish from Nucor Corp. as part of a cooperative endeavor agreement between the parish, the state and the steel-manufacturing firm. Hymel said the land exchange is part of the tax incentive plan that helped attract Nucor’s new manufacturing facility to the region. The parish will hold a public hearing on the matter at the next council meeting, scheduled for Oct. 5 at 6:15 p.m. at the parish courthouse in Convent.