Selective Recycling Makes Sense, So Where Can You Recycle?

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recycling
By Sheila Grissett
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]efore Katrina, the importance of and investment in recycling were not fully embraced by many of the region’s decision makers, nor was recycling regularly practiced by many residents in areas where it was offered. In fact, curbside recycling was started in some jurisdictions in response to public pressure, only to be axed when public participation fell off sharply. Recycling programs, whether public or private, only work when there is an adequate level of participation by the public.

Ultimately, all the recycling programs operating when Katrina devastated the region in August 2005 were eliminated, but they have begun to return in the last few years. LPBF’s position is that we recognize the value of people’s time and so we do strongly recommend recycling for the materials which actually get us the most benefit.

Recycling is often embraced as a good idea, but much less often is it actually done on a regular basis by most consumers. Why recycle? For some materials, arguments for recycling are very powerful. Aluminum and plastics make the most sense for returning the product into the manufacturing cycle because it saves energy, reduces pollution and reduces volume of wastes in landfills. But we should not forget that organic yard material such as grass cuttings and tree limbs may be recycled at home with mulching and spreading in our own yards. Otherwise, the success of recyclable material is largely dependent on the collection system or programs available to local communities. Also, remember that there are other programs for toxic materials such as paint. For example, a parish or other organization may hold a toxic drop off day, or there are programs like Habitat for Humanity ReStore which re-sells donated household materials. There is also at least one commercial firm—Phoenix Recycling—which will pick up recyclable materials for a fee in Orleans, Jefferson, East St. Charles and St. Bernard Parishes.

Today, curbside recycling has been restored to at least pre-Katrina levels in most jurisdictions throughout much of the Pontchartrain Basin. But once again, it will be likely be residents who determine the longevity of restored programs. It will take residential demand and participation to create new services where there are none, such as in unincorporated St. Tammany Parish, or to add curbside pick up in areas now offering only drop-off bins, such as in Kenner. It is a fairly simple business model at play; to justify the cost of providing services, a healthy segment of the population must actually recycle.

NORTH SHORE:

Perhaps the healthiest recycling program currently operating in the region is found in Mandeville, where it is hard to argue with the successful partnership of the city and its Keep Mandeville Beautiful (KMB) organization, a non-profit affiliate of Keep Louisiana Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful. In addition to restoration of curbside services, the KMB in 2009 established the first drop-off recycling bin in St. Tammany Parish at the corner of Girod Street and General Pershing in Old Mandeville. The city’s nascent program has since blossomed into Mandeville Recycles, a robust KMB-driven initiative financed largely by $50,000+ in grants and private donations secured since 2009 and another $60,000 worth of in-kind support provided annually.

Mandeville Recycle works in four separate arenas, including:
DROP OFF COLLECTIONS: The first bin placed almost five years ago collects more than 4,500 cubic yards of recyclables annually at no cost to taxpayers, and due to overwhelming demand, KMB subsequently added a second bin in a Rouse’s parking lot on Dalwill Drive.

CURBSIDE: Despite a slow restart after Katrina, KMB estimates that 55% of eligible Mandeville properties now participate in curbside recycling, a number expected to keep growing in response to KMB’s continuing, high profile campaign teaching the ABCs of recycling in schools and a multitude of public venues.

OUTDOOR EVENTS: With help from KMB, the city passed and enacted a new ordinance that requires recycling at all outdoor events the city permits. As part of that initiative, KMB used grant money to buy portable recycling containers that are loaned out, at no cost, to event organizers. Additionally, permanent containers have been located at the Mandeville Trailhead and plans are in the works to put still more recycling containers in Mandeville’s public spaces.

SCHOOLS CAMPAIGN: A paper recycling initiative was started in four Mandeville schools in 2010. Today, more than a dozen schools recycle thousands of pounds of paper monthly, significantly reducing the volume of paper that must be hauled to a dumpsite, a cost borne by the schools. The recycling program is provided at no-cost to schools.

Along with Mandeville, the cities of Covington and Slidell also offer weekly, curbside recycling within their municipal limits. However, St. Tammany has neither curbside services nor drop-off sites in unincorporated areas, leaving recyclers there to contract with private companies (currently unavailable) or make other arrangements.

SOUTH SHORE

The City of New Orleans championed the post-Katrina return of recycling south of Lake Pontchartrain. In contrast to some of its neighbors, the state’s most populous city enjoyed a healthy level of residential recycling when Katrina hit. In August 2011, curbside service returned to much of the city, and in January 2014, it was extended to all eligible properties in the French Quarter and Downtown Development District.

New Orleans also operates a monthly drop-off center that accepts both traditional curbside materials and an array of non-standard recyclables from Mardi Gras beads and batteries to e-waste, light bulbs and tires. Check the city’s Sanitation Department website at http://www.nola.gov/sanitation/recycling/drop-off/ for details of that program and news of special recycling events. Area recyclers may also want to consult www.gogreennola.org/recycle and www.thegreenproject.org for additional chances to recycle, reuse or repurpose materials instead of sending them to area landfills.

In mid-2012, Jefferson Parish jumped back into the curbside pool, starting with weekly residential pickup in unincorporated areas, including all of Metairie and Old Jefferson, and the town of Jean Lafitte. Just last month, the parish extended curbside service to those small businesses that also get garbage pick-up through the parish. Additionally, the parish began an internal recycling program at the Yenni Building in Elmwood that is so successful a spokeswoman said it will likely be extended into other government buildings. Already, so many materials are being recycled that it has reduced by at least 50 percent the number of paid garbage pickups required at that location, she said. Likewise, the parish’s recycler is also working with Jefferson Parish public schools in a paper recycling campaign that is reducing their trash disposal costs as well.

In October 2012, Harahan became the only city in Jefferson to follow the parish’s lead by reinstituting curbside recycling in that city for the first time since 2002. In Kenner, the state’s seventh largest city, residents are provided with two drop-off sites, but no curbside service. Because of extremely heavy usage, the city recently relocated its original drop-off bin from a high profile site on Vintage Drive adjacent to Kenner City Park to a more remote area in North Kenner Park on 38th Street behind the Pontchartrain Center. Due to public demand, a second bin was added behind City Hall at 1801 Williams Blvd. Ditto for Gretna, which has sites behind the Crockett Fire Station off Gretna Boulevard and another at First Street and Ocean Avenue, as well as Westwego, where a single drop off bin sits adjacent to City Hall at 419 Avenue A. In neighboring St. Charles, 13 drop-off sites are scattered about the parish, some on both sides of the river, and residents are encouraged to call 985-783-5182 to suggest other locations. Check the parish website www.stcharlesparish-la.gov for addresses and locater maps.

Although recycling programs vary somewhat by jurisdiction, most now accept single stream recycling, meaning materials no longer need to be separated by type. Aluminum, tin cans, paper and acceptable plastics, for example, can be combined in a single container for pick up, although paper and cardboard may need to be kept separate. It is important to know what is required by each program so that unacceptable materials are never included, as it is expensive for collectors to weed out unacceptable items. If details of the recycling services in your jurisdiction are not easily accessible online, call the general number for city hall or parish administration buildings and request help. To learn more about recycling in general, check the resource- rich recycling site maintained by Keep Mandeville Beautiful at http://www.keepmandevillebeautiful.com/recycling.php.

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