A representative for a local business called Integrico sent out a representative, Brian Kelly, who came to the Police Jury in order to find a better agreement with the company that operates Webster Parish’s landfill, Republic Services.
His main contention came down to the fact that a reclassification of the waste that the business produced has lead to increased costs on the business’s end. Best summarized by Police Jury President Jim Bonsall, “They were taking it as garbage, at some point in time they discovered it is what they classified as special waste.”
The new identification of the waste comes with higher prices, which Kelly says are unsustainable given the current cost. “From $2650 to an essentially a $12,000 dollar a week garbage pickup, said Kelly. “Financially that’s not tolerable, it’s just not. I don’t say that in jest.”
They argue that no chemicals are used in their process, so the waste shouldn’t be charged the same as other waste.
However, Riley Willis, Manager of the Special Waste for the Webster Parish Landfill argued that it was a necessary change once they had found out that the waste needed to be reclassified.
“One of our environmental people for Republic Services came out to the landfill and saw a load and says, what is that, looked at it, and we said ‘it’s just trash.’ He identified what the waste was and went, ‘well no that’s not just trash that’s special waste that should be characterized and profiled to the landfill,” Riley Willis.
“If you look at the LDEQ guidelines of what’s reported as industrial waste, there’s contaminated soil and filtered dust, and this would either fall under filtered dust or as an off-spec process.”
Around this point however it was stated that the classification of “special waste” was set by Republic Services themselves, and the EPA or the LDEQ.
When explaining the process that the plastic Integrico uses goes through, Kelly made sure to emphasize that no chemicals were used in their process and thus shouldn’t be treated the same as other potentially hazardous materials.
“You run it through a process. No chemicals, no anything, other than, I’ll call it severe agitation. Run it through some grinder and choppers with some pretty tight clearances,” said Kelly.
“We put it through a machine that essentially has got a fan in it. It makes the air go around, the heavy stuff falls in the middle and the light stuff goes to the top which is the paper and that plastic dust, and that is a majority of our waste.”
Randy Thomas clarified by saying, “So basically it’s chopped up. You haven’t put any chemical on it, all you really did was grind up the product and take the paper and the dust off.”
Even after hearing the explanation, however, Willis stood firm on Republic’s initial position. “Based on republic services standards, and we’ re the second-largest landfill waste management company in the United States, that’s what they identify what special waste is.”
He also explained that they had told Integrico about the price increase earlier, and tried to provide what ease they could due to the increased costs.
“They’re biggest concern then was them saying we can’t take this increase immediately, is there a way to work with us to put a graduated increase, where we can include it for our budget for next year,” said Willis.
“Y’all asked us to keep pricing the same for a month, we kept it the same for I believe 2 and a half months, and then we increased it to a third of the final price, then in October, we changed it to the full price, to allow them time to address it in their budget.”
Given that Kelly made it clear that Integrico could not sustain the price increase, he did say that he had other options, even though they weren’t ideal.
“I have two other options right now. The accountants got the numbers right now, and we’re trying to figure out right now how bad is it going to hurt and are we going to be able to financially handle those fees. But it’s not $48,000 a month I can tell you,” said Kelly.
Given the timeliness of this particular issue, Police Juror Daniel Thomas of Dist. 3 stated, “We’re bidding the landfill operation out. This needs to be one of the questions to the bidders.”
Summing his thoughts, Bonsall explained “We gotta figure this out, that’s all I can tell you. It’s like Randy said, I see both sides of the situation, I don’t see either one of you being wrong. It’s something that we’ve got to work out.”
Unfortunately though, by the end of the meeting, it seemed as though Kelly had deemed that his best bet for Integrico was to look elsewhere to deal with waste pick up, though might decide otherwise if another company starts managing the landfill.
“I’m going to go work my tail off to try to save these jobs. I’ve got a deal I can at least survive a while with, I’m going to pull the trigger on that. We can negotiate something when the landfill contract comes back up or something with whoever happens to get it.
If it’s somebody new and if not we’ll stick with what we have,” said Kelly.
The Webster Parish Police Jury holds a meeting every Tuesday morning starting at 11 a.m. at 410 Main St.