Aug 26, 2013 6:26 PM by Chris Welty

School Recycling Issues Growing in Lafayette Parish

Recycling could be a thing of the past for several Lafayette Parish schools.

For years, recycling services were free, but starting next month, schools will have to foot the bill.

Every year, Lafayette High recycles more than 120-thousand gallons of material, that's more than 10-thousand gallons each month.

"It was great, they would pick them up and everything. It was just our job to fill them," said LHS teacher Nick Richert.

In 2006, he started the recycling program for both in and outside of classrooms. Richert says, "We're doing our part to help the environment and not do more damage."

Two weeks ago, a letter was sent the school saying if recycling were going to continue it would cost.

Richert says, "You kind of have to prioritize. Is this worth it?"

Jonathan Dewitt with Progressive Waste says they've offered recycling as a community service for about a decade free of charge to area schools. He says transportation and labor cost have gone up and they can't continue "free" service.

Last year, the Lafayette Parish School Board voted on a new waste contract. Progressive Waste was the only company to offer recycling and garbage removal. Instead, Allied Waste offered only trash removal and won the bid. Meaning, any school that wants to recycle will have to pay.

In a letter released to KATC, in September last year, the board was advised to award the contract to Progressive Waste because that contract offered more bang for the boards buck. Only two board members voted in favor, Hunter Beasley and Shelton Cobb.

"We need a guardian angel who is environmentally conscious and wants to help out the environment, education and support this program," said Richert.

As a rough estimate, Progressive Waste says it will cost Lafayette High about 70-dollars a month for once a week pick up. Friday is the deadline for the school to decide if they will continue the recycling service.

Right now, they're looking for community sponsorships to help foot the bill. So far, several teachers are dedicating a portion of their paychecks to ensure recycling continues.

School board member Tommy Angelle says, "I thought it was the best deal and interest for the tax payers at the time to go with Allied Waste. If it means spending money we didn't budget, I think we should take a good hard look into it and try to get a recycling program."

Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper agrees saying, "We will have to explore new ways to continue to recycle and to teach our students the importance of participating in this effort."

Chris Welty



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