Posted: Nov 19, 2021, 1:15 PM
A groundbreaking recycling program sponsored by the Bossier Parish Police Jury and the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office has the potential to be beneficial not only to the environment but also to the bottom line of both agencies.
A baler machine, purchased by the parish police jury, is currently crunching waste cardboard into bales at the Bossier Parish maximum security prison on Old Plain Dealing Rd. Labor to transport materials from nearby facilities and operate the unit is provided by inmates at the facility, supervised by Sheriff Julian Whittington’s department.
It’s the first recycling program instituted at a correctional facility in north Louisiana. Cardboard and paper waste is diverted from landfills to recycling centers, and the proceeds are going to a local award-winning non-profit agency.
“We’re starting with cardboard and paper and will work to incorporate other recyclable items as resources allow,” said Lynn Bryan, Executive Director of Keep Bossier Beautiful. It’s Bryan’s organization that will receive proceeds from the recycled material to help fund its programs and activities.
“I cannot express how much we appreciate the police jury and the Sheriff’s office working to make this project possible, it’s a win-win for everyone. Bryan said. “This is a wonderful program and it’s just the beginning of what we can do together. It complements our Recycling School program where local schools are recycling cardboard and received a cardboard dumpster for a trial period, courtesy of Blake Bunnett, General Manager of Renewaste Solutions.”
Ted Alford is maintenance superintendent of corrections at the facilities, and oversees the recycling effort. He sees the program as a money saver in addition to being environmentally friendly.
“We’re taking this waste away from already overloaded landfills and turning into to reusable materials,” he said. “That’s great for the environment, but we’re also saving money because there’s less trash to be hauled away. We will probably be able to justify fewer trash bins and fewer trash pick-ups.”
According to Alford, the recycling effort has been underway for about six weeks. Four bales, each weighing an average of about 1,000 pounds, have been generated so far. He estimates the program can produce a bale of cardboard every 10 days, and 10 bales would be optimum for transportation to a recycling center.
Bossier Parish Purchasing Agent and Director of Operations Jim Firth bought the machine from Renewaste after studying the potential economic and environmental impact of recycling efforts.
“Recycling is important to the environment, and we believe it’s also going to help us save money,” Firth said. “We think our savings in waste hauling alone could be around ten to fifteen thousand dollars a year, and that could be conservative.”
Firth said he is planning to include construction of a covered structure to house the cardboard baler in the police jury’s budget. And, he added, the baler could soon have company.
“Our next step is to purchase a recycling machine to take care of the large volume of cans that pass through the prisons,” he said. “Many of the items purchased here are in large cans and it makes sense to recycle rather than haul these items to landfills.”
Bryan said the benefits of the first recycling program in northwest Louisiana to be located at an incarceration facility, a program she calls “Bossier Parish Prisons Recycle,” justify the effort.
“Together, we will lower waste cost and lower the quantity of material transported to our landfills,” she said. “Meanwhile, we’re saving taxpayers money and enhancing our environment. She is glad to partner with entities that get things done.”
Keep Bossier Beautiful (KBB) and is a winner of the 2020-2021 Circle of Excellence Award from Keep America Beautiful. KBB and is a recipient of a Cleanup Supply Grant from Keep Louisiana Beautiful, Inc., the state’s anti-litter and community improvement organization focused on education, enforcement, awareness, and cleanups.
Additional investments in their work include a $9K gift from The Alta and John Franks Foundation. To learn more about Keep Bossier Beautiful, to become a partner or a volunteer, visit KeepBossierBeautiful.com or find us on Facebook.