A new report has found that Lawrence's recycling rate is above the national average, thanks in large part to collection efforts by the private sector.
The report by the city's solid waste division estimated Lawrence's recycling rate in 2007 at 35 percent, which is above the 32.5 percent national average estimated by the EPA.
Mayor Mike Dever said he was impressed with the findings, especially given that the city doesn't operate a curbside recycling program.
"We're relying on private entities and citizens to do a lot of the work that municipalities do in other communities," Dever said. "It says a lot about how committed people are to recycling here."
The report, though, doesn't do a lot to settle the question of whether the city should start a curbside recycling program, which several residents have urged.
Dever said he needed to analyze further how the high volume of recycled material collected by the private sector - primarily through the Wal-Mart Recycling Center - should play into the city's decision to start a curbside recycling program.
"I think there might be demand for a city service if the price were right, but I'm not sure it is something the city can get into right now," Dever said. "The downside is that I don't want to supplant private enterprise or what private citizens already are doing on their own."
Kathy Richardson, the city's waste reduction and recycling supervisor, said the city in 2007 started collecting mixed paper - such as cereal boxes and other paper packaging - for the first time. The city started with two drop-off points, but have since added four more.
But Richardson said staff and the city's Sustainability Advisory Board are still reviewing whether there are other feasible ways to expand recycling in the city.
"The city still has a targeted approach when it comes to recycling," Richardson said. "But our goal is to be better each year. Our goal is to increase recycling every year."
Some key findings of the report:
¢ The community recycled 30,314 tons of material in 2007, up from 28,814 tons in 2006.
¢ 15,567 tons of material were recycled through city programs. The remaining 14,747 tons were recycled through private collection efforts.
¢ The recycling efforts saved the city $580,513 in landfill tipping fees.
¢ The city sold some recycled materials, mainly cardboard, for $228,022.
¢ Grass leaves and brush were the most frequent type of materials recycled through the city's programs. Yard waste accounted for 86 percent of all the recycling collected.
¢ Paper materials including newspapers, cardboard and chipboard were the most frequent types of materials recycled through the private programs, with paper accounting for 21 percent.