Councilmen want Kenner recycling expanded

Just one month after restarting the city’s recycling program, Kenner officials already are talking about expanding due to a huge response in some areas.

The push for expansion came last week at the City Council after Councilman Kent Denapolis said the bin on Vintage Drive in his district is constantly overflowing due to high participation from residents.

The bin has even been emptied twice in less than a day, Denapolis said.

He said he wanted to know if Mayor Mike Yenni had considered adding another drop-off location to his district so residents won’t be discouraged from dropping off recyclables.

“The project is working,” Denapolis crowed, good-naturedly joking with other council members about how his district is once again leading the way in the city.

The city was aware of how busy the Vintage Drive site had become, Yennis said, but at this time there were no plans to expand the city’s recycling offers.

Kenner contracts with Ramelli Waste to provide the service, which includes two drop-off locations, at City Hall and on Vintage Drive.

City officials did not have the annual cost of the program because it just began, but Yenni said the city pays $150 every time Ramelli empties a bin. Yenni initially projected each site might have one or two collections per month, but early results have easily exceeded those figures.

When Kenner restarted the recycling program, it tried to keep it small because it wasn’t clear how much residents wanted to recycle, Yenni said.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, only 20 percent of residents recycled. Given Kenner’s tight budget, Yenni said he did not want to commit huge sums of money to something residents didn’t want.

Now that it’s clear residents like the service, Yenni said his administration will consider other options.

“We are very well aware of it, and we’re on top of it,” Yenni said. “Progressive cities have recycling, and Kenner is a progressive city. We’re just experimenting to see how well it’s going to be utilized.”

But just as Denapolis was pushing for another bin in his district, other council members wanted an initial bin in their districts or more education for residents about the bins they already have.

Many residents might not be aware of the bin at City Hall, Councilman Gregory Carroll said, and Kenner officials need to work harder to get the word out. He also asked if there might not be another location farther south that’s more visible to residents. The bin at City Hall is typically emptied twice per week.

Councilman Keith Reynaud said he’s been fighting to get a bin in his district for some time. He also suggested the mayor consider asking Ramelli Waste to swap full bins for empty ones instead of just removing the bin entirely to dump it. That way, residents won’t make a trip to the recycling site and not be able to unload their items, he said.

Councilwoman Maria Defrancesch said her residents have to travel all the way over to Denapolis’ district to recycle, and it would be much easier if they could just drop it off in her district.

“To make it truly successful, we’re going to have more sites,” she said.

Yenni announced the restart of recycling on Dec. 18. Residents can drop off any materials with a recycling symbol from 1-7 and paper products.

Several Jefferson Parish municipalities have restarted recycling programs in recent months, and most of them use drop-off sites, unlike the curbside service provided in unincorporated Jefferson Parish.

Any changes in the service likely will have to wait until the city is further along in its budget process, the mayor said.

It would be great to expand the program, but only if the money is available, he added.

“It’s becoming extremely popular, but the question is ‘Can we afford it?’ ” Yenni said.