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Bossier using baler, inmates to recycle cardboard

Plan is to next buy a machine to recycle large volume of cans that pass through Bossier’s prisons
Lynn Bryan, executive director of Keep Bossier Beautiful, sits on one of four bales of...
Lynn Bryan, executive director of Keep Bossier Beautiful, sits on one of four bales of cardboard produced since Bossier Parish’s baler was put into operation about six weeks ago. Each bale weighs about 1,000 pounds.((Source: Bossier Parish Police Jury))
Published: Nov. 21, 2021 at 9:01 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2021 at 9:11 PM CST
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BOSSIER PARISH, La. (KSLA) — Bossier Parish has gotten into the recycling business. And it has the first recycling program at a jail or prison in North Louisiana.

The program that began about six weeks ago revolves around a machine that crushes cardboard waste into bales. Inmate labor is used to transport the cardboard from nearby facilities to the baler Bossier Maximum-Security Facility on Old Plain Dealing Road at Plain Dealing. Inmates also operate the machine.

In a news release, officials with the Police Jury and the Sheriff’s Office described the program as groundbreaking and said that it has the potential to benefit the environment and to impact the two agencies’ bottom line.

Cardboard and paper waste is being diverted from landfills to recycling centers, and the proceeds are going to a local award-winning nonprofit, they said.

“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. Proceeds from the recycled material will go to Bryan’s nonprofit 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 is quoted as saying in the news release.

“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 receive a cardboard Dumpster for a trial period, courtesy of Blake Bunnett, general manager of Renewaste Solutions.”

Ted Alford, maintenance superintendent of corrections at the facilities, oversees the recycling effort. He sees the program as a money saver and as being environmentally friendly.

“We’re taking this waste away from already overloaded landfills and turning into to reusable materials; 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 pickups.”

Thus far, the baler has produced four bales, each of which weighs an average of about a half ton. Alford estimates that the program eventually will be able to produce a bale of cardboard every 10 days and that 10 bales would be optimal for transportation to a recycling center.

“Recycling is important to the environment, and we believe it’s also going to help us save money,” said Jim Firth, purchasing agent and operations director for the parish. “We think our savings in waste hauling alone could be around $10,000-$15,000 a year, and that could be conservative.”

Firth also said he plans to include in the Police Jury budget construction of a covered structure to house the cardboard baler. And the baler soon could have company. he added.

“Our next step is to purchase a recycling machine to take care of the large volume of cans that pass through the prisons. Many of the items purchased here are in large cans. and it makes sense to recycle rather than haul these items to landfills.”