When campaigns are over, corrugated plastic signs are often left behind on neutral grounds and in ditches. And there’s another problem: Most city recycling programs don’t accept the signs, which are classified as #5 plastics, the same as yogurt cups and butter tubs.
But in 2019 Tre Bishop, the son of Rep. Stuart Bishop, (R-Lafayette) launched a program in Lafayette to send the signs to a recycling center in Alabama that can process the material to be remade into pipes, packaging and other products. In 2020, he expanded the program to several other towns in the Acadiana region. Now, the 13-year-old wants to make the program statewide.
House Concurrent Resolution 70, by Rep. Malinda White (D-Bogalusa), urges and requests the secretary of state, among, others, to work with local governments to establish and promote events to collect the signs and transport them to a recycling center. The resolution also suggests that information about recycling campaign signs be included in qualifying packets given to candidates statewide.
The 7th grader introduced the bill at the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality meeting Tuesday. “I’m here today to talk about political signs. Yes, those very things that helped everyone here get elected,” he said. “At the end of the 2019 election season, I looked around at all the remaining campaign debris in Lafayette Parish and wondered where all these signs went to. After a bit of research, I found out that campaign signs can’t be recycled in the usual household recycling bins.”
Senators praised the teenager’s effort before advancing the bill without opposition. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) said the bill was an example of how laws can be made by one person who decided to take action. “This is just an example of how one person can make a difference in something that can have long term effects on our community,” she said. “And recycling is a very, very good thing for our environment.”
Senate President Page Cortez (R-Lafayette) testified in support of the bill. Cortez said, as a former civics teacher, he was impressed by the fact that Bishop presented the bill himself. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Eddie Lambert (R-Gonzales), asked Bishop if he could introduce the resolution on the Senate floor.
“I advocated a plastic recycling bill that some of my friends in the chemical association were not so hot on years ago,” Sen. Lambert said. “Just maybe I can pass a recycling bill.”