The joke is on Shreveport and the 66,000-plus paying water bills. Councilman John Nickelson summed it up best at the Monday council work session: “Shreveport does not have a recycling program.”
Back when recycling was the “in thing,” Shreveport jumped on the tree hugger bandwagon. This was part of then Mayor Cedric Glover’s “The Next Great City in the South” platform.
Early in his first term, the $2.50-per-month recycling fee ordinance was passed. This amount is added to all the city’s water bills.
The city has spent approximately $1 million for the bright blue recycling bins. Every city resident gets a blue bin along with a regular green bin.
Pratt Industries, at the Port of Shreveport Bossier, is the named “recycling” depository. In the heyday of the recycling market, it was economically feasible to sell recycled glass, tin, plastic and paper.
But those days have been long gone. Now the only market is for paper and corrugated cardboard. And that is all that Pratt actually recycles.
No one has bothered to advise Shreveport citizens. No matter what they toss into a blue recycling bin, it goes to Pratt. But most of it ultimately goes to a landfill.
But wait, it does get worse. Pratt no longer uses the Shreveport landfill. This deprives Shreveport of much needed income.
So here is how it now works.
The city passes through the $2.50 recycling fee to Republic Services. Republic empties the curbside blue bins every other week.
Republic hauls the blue bin stuff to Pratt. Republic pays Pratt $50 for each truck that dumps at Pratt.
Pratt then sorts the blue bin stuff, saving only paper and corrugated cardboard for recycling. Pratt sends the rest to the Desoto Parish dump and pays a $30 dumping fee. (Yep, Pratt makes $20 from each “dump” by Republic, plus gets the paper/cardboard to recycle.)
Guess how many households roll their blue bins out to the curb each pickup date. Best guess is fewer than 30 percent. Probably less than 20 percent.
“Best guess” because Republic was very evasive in replying to this question to the council on Monday. Republic wanted to talk tonnage. Pratt said it did not have data on the average number of bins. Really?
The contract with Republic ends Oct. 8, 2020.
Whether an early termination date could be negotiated has not been discussed. If the vote was today, there is no doubt the council would vote to terminate the Republic contract. It is important to note that the city does not have a contract with Pratt.
The $2.50 recycling fee should be directed to sanitation expenses and/or rebuilding the city reserves. The blue bins can be used for garbage.
This contract is a great example of the “fat cutting” that so many citizens are calling for. Hopefully the council will address this issue soon.
(This article was published in The Inquisitor on Friday, February 15, 2019)