By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer

The much-touted recycling program for most of the city, announced as a sweetener in the recent contract negotiations with Metro Disposal and Richard’s Disposal, will not start with the new year, an attorney for the companies said, and it’s unclear just how soon residents will be putting out their paper, plastic and glass.

An attorney for the two companies said there’s no way either company will be able to offer the services by Jan. 1. That’s because the companies have to work out the logistics, order and distribute the bins, and run an education campaign, among other things, attorney Dan Davillier said.

Not the least of those other things is finalizing the contracts. The amended Metro contract, announced last month, is still being drafted and technical issues regarding recycling are “the primary holdup,”  Davillier said.

The city was vague when asked when the contract will be done and when the widely anticipated recycling will start.

“The completed contract amendment and recycling start date will be worked out in the coming weeks,” said Ryan Berni, spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The two companies provide all trash pickup outside of the French Quarter and Central Business District. That area is covered by SDT Waste and Debris Services, which did not offer recycling in its recent contract renegotiations.

David McDonough, owner and operator of Phoenix Recycling, has been providing recycling services for a fee to Orleans Parish residents since October 2007. The services to Orleans Parish make up 70 percent of the company’s’ revenues, he said.

McDonough expressed enthusiasm for a widespread recycling program but was disappointed that his company was unable to bid when the city insisted that trash collection and recycling be done by the same company. He said the city might have gotten a better deal if it had bid the recycling separately.

With the fate of 21 full-time employees in the balance, McDonough is  anxious to learn when his services will no longer be needed.

Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led...