River Birch LLC, which owns a Waggaman landfill adjacent to the one owned by Jefferson Parish, has reached an agreement to buy out the remaining three-and-a-half years of Waste Connections’ contract to operate the parish landfill, giving the company a stronger foothold in the parish’s garbage business.

River Birch President Jim Ward confirmed Friday that the company had a deal in place, though it must still be approved by the Jefferson Parish Council. Ward declined to divulge the price River Birch will pay for the contract. The parish paid $4.8 million to Louisiana Regional Landfill Company, a subsidiary of Waste Connections, in 2019 to operate the landfill. “Waste Connections offered and I accepted to purchase their contract,” Ward said.

The move solidifies River Birch as the dominant player in Jefferson Parish’s waste collection and disposal industry. The company already has a contract to collect natural gas from the Jefferson Parish landfill, and earlier this year, the company began picking up trash on the west bank as a Waste Connections’ subcontractor after council members demanded Waste Connections improve its garbage pickup performance or risk losing the parish’s work. River Birch’s owners, Ward and Fred Heebe, are frequent players in Jefferson Parish politics, often pouring thousands of dollars into political races. The earliest the council could take up the issue would be Dec. 9.

Several Parish Council members said that they welcomed River Birch’s move, though some said they would have to see the details before they formally approve it. “I think they have a really good mindset,” Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken said, citing River Birch’s help in collecting gas from the landfill. “They certainly understand the parish is wanting to do things as efficiently as we can.”

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Author: Faimon A. Roberts III, NOLA.com
Image: Dina Rogers, NOLA.com