LIVINGSTON – Parish recycling will likely not go before voters any time soon, but options could become available for residents.
The Livingston Parish Council took no action at its Jan. 24 meeting on request from Denham Springs resident Muriel Laws, an Environmental Protection Agency employee who urged members to bring a parish wide recycling referendum to voters.
Doubts among council members on whether voters would approve the measure halted discussion on a millage to support mandatory recycling. However, voluntary recycling methods could come into play, according to a representative from Waste Management of Walker.
Options would include dumpsters located at sites across the parish, along with a tractor service, in which Waste Management would pick up kits from homeowners that would contain the recyclables they want to dispose.
The mounting costs of recycling have posed obstacles to keep it growing, according to Donald Hains, who works with public sector solutions for Waste Management.
China’s new import policies banning materials and limiting contamination have global impacts on programs in communities across the States, he said in a presentation to the council. Over 25 percent of the world’s recyclables were imported by China, including 50 percent of paper and plastics, he added.
“We’ve seen the price of recycling go from used to be free at the gate to $95 a ton, which is three times the price for household garbage,” Hains said. “We’ve seen this happen in less than two years.”
China is on a path to eliminate imports of all post-consumer recyclables by 2021. The reduction of China’s markets have resulted in an oversupply of commodities and depressed commodity pricing.
The pricing and markets will likely remain volatile in 2019 and beyond.
“Supply is high and commodity pricing low,” Hains said.
Laws said money appears to be the issue but suggested that the parish partner with the school system and civic groups to promote recycling.
“I’m willing to work with the council to make this happen,” she said.
Council Chairman Shane Mack recommended household hazardous waste drives to help with the recycling.
Mark Harrell, director of the Livingston Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the one-day events run between $40,000 and $60,000. Previous drives were funded through grants from the state Department of Environmental Quality, but those funds are no longer available.
Maurepas resident Larry O’Neill, head of Livingston Parish Gravity Drainage District 7, said waterways in his area have been a frequent dumping site for everything plastic bottles and aluminum cans, to refrigerators.
“There’s a lot of trash in those waterways, and it’s disgusting,” he said. “All those things go to the ocean – they go from Maurepas to the Gulf of Mexico and eventually to the ocean.”
The City of Denham Springs is the only municipality that offers recycling in Livingston Parish. The service, through Republic Service, costs homeowners a monthly fee of $20 for two pickups each month.
Mack told Laws the parish has “a lot of problems to address,” including recycling, but said it would require more discussion before the matter could go up for a vote.
Hains said he would provide prices on the cost of recycling days and suggested the parish include a link on its website on how to receive more information on recycling from Waste Management.
The council can legally post the link on its website because the parish already has a contract with Waste Management, Parish Attorney Chris Moody said.
“If a competing entity wants to offer recycling, you can include them as well,” he said.