Baton Rouge, LA – Building a State-of-the-Art Recycling Program
Service Levels and Overall Cost Savings for Solid Waste Management on the Rise
GBB assisted with the procurement process that led to the 49% reduction in cost
“GBB was instrumental in stepping Baton Rouge through strategic planning and contract, and without their expertise, we would not have the progressive program we have today”
Director of Recycling,
East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
On July 31, 2006, the City of Baton Rouge / Parish of East Baton Rouge (City/Parish), which provides a broad array of solid waste management services to over 120,000 residences over a span of 472 square miles, started implementing a new single-stream recycling program, with the goal of providing greater convenience to residents, collecting larger volumes of recyclable materials, and reducing solid waste management costs. In other words, more for less!
New 64-gallon wheeled recycling carts are being delivered to residents in a two-phase approach over a period of 6 months, and residents are urged to “Do Your Part, Use the Cart” as part of the new program. With the arrival of their new carts, residents no longer will have to separate their materials into green/red bins and will be able to recycle new materials, such as plastic food and beverage containers (numbers #1 – #7) and all sizes of folded/flattened cardboard.
The City/Parish is able to collect the expanded mix of materials as a result of a partnership with local firm The Recycling Foundation and their new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), which can process about 18 tons of recyclable material an hour. The MRF is the first of its kind in Louisiana and rivals singlestream facilities in the most progressive recycling cities in the country. The company won the City/Parish recycling contract by offering to pick up and process recyclables for $1.47 per household, a significant reduction from the $2.90 per household with the previous contractor. GBB assisted with the procurement process that led to the 49% reduction in costs by drafting the RFP and contributing to the selection process and negotiations with The Recycling Foundation. “GBB’s expertise in the RFP process and wide range of contacts in the recycling industry resulted in a range of competitive bids for Baton Rouge, leading to the award of our current low price/household under the Recycling Foundation contract”, noted Susan Hamilton, Director of Recycling for East Baton Rouge Parish.
Getting to the point of implementation was a long and critical process that started with a strategic review conducted by GBB and presented to the Baton Rouge Council in August 2004. The Strategic Plan provided critical information needed for decision-making and guided the City/Parish toward a balanced waste and recyclables management system. City management reviewed the program options available and made recommendations. GBB was then tasked to assist in managing the procurement process, which led to the selection of a contractor and to the implementation currently underway. As with any new recycling initiative,outreach is the key to success as highlighted by Hamilton: “We did a lot of grassroots press/pre-press: user fee inserts, bag stuffers in local grocery stores, paid and donated ads in our local paper, displays in all parish libraries, etc. We are using Rosie the Riveter as the mascot and have generated a lot of media coverage right off the bat, which is great and will contribute to the success of the initiative.”
“Now, one month into cart delivery for the new recycling program, the grassroots outreach is working well,” added Hamilton, “Notwithstanding a few bumps of resistance to change, mainly from condominium residents who think the new carts are too large for small garage spaces, most residents are very pleased with the convenience of the new program and the opportunity to recycle more.“
“The expanded list of materials collected, lack of sorting, and ease of using the cart should enable Baton Rouge residents to double the 12,000 tons of recyclables currently collected from residents at the curb annually,” said Hamilton. Looking back at the initiative that started two years ago, and reflecting on all the work that led to the current implementation, Hamilton expressed satisfaction that Baton Rouge now has one of the most progressive and cost-effective recycling programs in the state: “The greatest hurdle was getting through the contract writing, bid, and award process. The greatest reward is seeing our community embrace the new program, and looking towards seeing recycling grow over the remaining ten years of the contract. GBB was instrumental in stepping Baton Rouge through strategic planning and contract, and without their expertise, we would not have the progressive program we have today.”
As of August 2007 with 51,000 carts delivered, tonnage collected curbside has increased by over 30%.
Baton Rouge Wins 2007 Outstanding Public Education Award from National Recycling Coalition
On September 17, 2007, the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) presented the Beth Brown Boettner Award for Outstanding Public Education to the East Baton Rouge Recycling Office. The prestigious award was presented to Susan Hamilton, Director of Recycling for East Baton Rouge Parish, during NRC’s 26th Annual Congress & Expo, in Denver, CO. Each year, to recognize the best in recycling, the NRC presents awards to outstanding organizations and individuals in a number of categories. Winners are selected by a committee of NRC members. The Beth Brown Boettner award, honoring a recycling program that shows innovation and leadership in public education, is named for an Austin, TX city employee who developed one of the first major city recycling programs in the nation.
“Congratulations to the East Baton Rouge Recycling Office!” said Harvey Gershman, GBB President. “We have been fortunate to work closely with them over the past few years and are proud to be associated with this success story. From the get-go, Baton Rouge was dedicated to making things happen, increasing recycling, and lowering costs. They put in the necessary resources and efforts and turned their operation into a model other communities look up to.”