Archive for Monday, June 16, 2008

Recycling options

Adding another service that doesn’t pay for itself probably isn’t a winning decision for the city of Lawrence.

June 16, 2008


Lawrence residents want curbside trash recycling. The question is how much they are willing to pay for it.

Survey results released by the city last week should offer some useful guidance about whether the city should move forward on curbside recycling. The fact that 73 percent of respondents said they currently recycle indicates strong local interest, but the number seems implausibly high unless you count everyone who throws an aluminum can in a recycling bin.

The real test here, of course, is who is willing to pay - and how much - for the city to pick up and process recyclable trash. Predictably, the number of people who want the city to offer a curbside recycling service goes down as the fee they would have to pay goes up. Fifty-eight percent said the city should start a curbside recycling program, but only 49 percent said they were likely to pay $6 per month for such a service. At $9 per month, that number goes down to 21 percent, and at $12 a month drops to 10 percent.

Although the survey offered options, a city service almost certainly would give local residents no choice and simply attach a flat fee to everyone's refuse bill whether they used the recycling service or not.

The fact is, that at $12 or even $6 per month, everyone in Lawrence already can pay a private curbside recycling service for one or more pickups per month. So those who are willing to pay already have options.

The other aspect for the city, however, is how much more trash it could divert from the municipal landfill by operating its own curbside recycling. It's true that if Lawrence residents were required to pay for recycling whether they used it or not, more people probably would use it. That would mean less recyclable trash going to the landfill, but would those savings plus the additional fees cover the costs of the new program?

It's great to be environmentally conscious, but it seems that the last thing the city of Lawrence needs right now is another city service that doesn't pay for itself - especially when that service is readily available through private businesses in the community.

Even city leaders expressed mixed reactions to the survey results. That should tell them something. Until there is a clear indication that curbside recycling has a reasonable chance of breaking even for the city, it's a service that probably is better handled by private operators.


pace 7 years, 5 months ago

one of the ironies of this editorial is if anyone should advocate curbside recycling of paper it is a company that very much wants to put a recyclable material in every home and business they can, it is the newspaper. If they don't want it recycled maybe we just shouldn't buy it. Shame on the ljw for not ever taking responsibility for their part of using resources. The least they could do is encourage curbside collection rather than the pointless disposal of a very recyclable material. Shame on them.If curbside collection of the material makes no sense to them, neither does delivery of the paper. if everyone had to drive and pick up the paper wonder how their circulation rate would be affected. Another corporate answer, putting the onus of their trash on the public. They sell it, we buy it but we are suppose to ignore their responsibility in the chain.

HighScore 7 years, 5 months ago

I can certainly understand that people are reluctant to pay $12 for a curbside recycling program ontop of their existing monthly payment to city for trash removal. I myself would be willing to pay for this service, but $12/month seems very high for material that can be recycled for cast. Shouldn't the city be making money on the aluminum and other recycled materials?I was just curious if the program "recyclebank" has been discussed as an option for city-wide recycling. reading more on the company's website it sounds as thought it could be an excellent option for the city of Lawrence. This group will provide curbside recycling and actually pay the users for their recycled materials. Sure this payment is in the form of gift certificates, but it still beats having to pay for the recycling service. The difficulty with having this service introduced is that it is not just done on an individual basis. It seems that the recyclebank system will need to be introduced on a large, city-wide scale. I am not even sure if Lawrence would be large enough for this service.I just find it strange that this group has found a way to run a business on recycling that does not cost the user's anything, and actually gives them more incentive to recycle. I guess it just comes down to dollarsigns. Why would Lawrence outsource this recycling effort when they can charge $12 a household per month and also make money on the recycled materials. Is it just me, or does this sound very selfish of the City of Lawrence?

Jay_Z 7 years, 5 months ago

Wow, $6 - $12 a did the city come up with those numbers?? I live in Wyandotte County, and they are beginning to implement curbside recycling for $3 a month--and they'll pick up your recycling every week when they stop for your trash.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch. But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality.Developers and cars are two very expensive budget items. Both want roads. More streets = more cars = more people = more tax increases. Developers plans that consistently increase our tax liabilities instead of promoting tax reductions IS my concern:Over built retailIndustrial Sites considering many 12-14 acre sites are now available sewage treatment plant Houses - If residential growth paid for itself we might not be in a budget crunch. Increased numbers of residential create increased demand on services. Historically revenues generated by residential housing do not pay for the services they require from a municipality thus increased taxes to cover the cost of maintaining: * water and sewer lines streets public schools fire & emergency med stations law enforcement manpower snow removal cross walksTraffic ControlParksForget tax dollars,increased taxes and user fees. Legislate impact fees to cover the entire cost of all new development.Housing projects cost considerably more to maintain than a "Better T", excellent biking and walking options and a new library all of which serve the general public. A "Better T" plus walking and biking options encourage citizens to leave vehicles at home thus less abuse of expensive streets = fiscally prudent investment. 9th and New Hampshire library location makes use of a tax dollar supported parking garage = fiscally conservative approach. Converting the current library to a convention center makes use of an existing resource which is fiscally prudent rather than an expensive TIF project.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

In communities with pay-as-you-throw programs (also known as unit pricing or variable-rate pricing), residents are charged for the collection of municipal solid waste-ordinary household trash-based on the amount they throw away. This creates a direct economic incentive to generate less waste.Traditionally, residents pay for waste collection through property taxes or a fixed fee, regardless of how much-or how little-trash they generate. Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) breaks with tradition by treating trash services just like electricity, gas, and other utilities. Households pay a variable rate depending on the amount of service they use.Most communities with PAYT charge residents a fee for each bag or can of waste they generate. In a small number of communities, residents are billed based on the weight of their trash. Either way, these programs are simple and fair. The less individuals throw away, the less they pay.EPA supports this new approach to solid waste management.Frankly tenants or landlords should see to it that too much waste gets hauled to the landfill. Should not be the responsibility of city taxpayers to fund this wasteful lifestyle.

dandelion 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't mind doing my recycling, but I don't like paying the same for trash pickup as those who refuse to recycle. I like the plans that Marion talks about. Don't want to recycle, then pay more for trash pickup.

LogicMan 7 years, 5 months ago

P.S. to Target:Your original garden center, on the south side, is sitting there relatively unused. Why not make it a recycling center? Be sure to collect all types of metals (very valuable!) -- other than aluminum, there is a lack of collection points on the south side of town.

seriouscat 7 years, 5 months ago

Supply and demand of more eco-friendly packaging on our consumer goods + Curbside Recycling + Pay as you throw =Less trash, less waste, less landfill space. hey sounds like a cheer!

Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

Those that want curbside recycling and are willing to pay for it already are. Those that want curbside recycling but don't want to pay the full cost of the service want the taxpayers to subsidize it.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

"Merrill, still wants to convert the current library to a convention center. Why not clean up the current library and use it for a library, and how about using the Carnegie Building as part of the library system. AFter all, this is about recylcling. As for a convention center, the current post office buidling would do just fine, in the event that operation is moved elsewhere. There could still be a service counter, yep, even in a Convention Center."You may change your mind once you become more aware of the Fritzel tax dollar plan.

ukillaJJ 7 years, 5 months ago

Does the water system, plumbing, and trash pay for itself? I don't think so, but society definitely benefits from it.

pace 7 years, 5 months ago

Get someone with good administrative and marketing skills to run and develop the system, yoo yoo is a good old boy that will design it to fail and preen himself as the victor. lots of things can be recycled and why have all the cars driving all over to do it. If you just pick up metals and paper/cardboards even once a month, but best weekly. it is a win win for the community and the earth. Recycling on a regular basis is one of the best teachers of reduction. Every home and business in this town has easily recognized paper, put it in a bin and set it out weekly, We are sending thousands of pound of aluminum and tons of metal 11 miles to the landfill on a regular basis. price of gas at a gallon a mile. Recycle those two types of material curbside and we reduce those trips. i believe that landfills are good, they are good for unrecyclable trash.

LogicMan 7 years, 5 months ago

Should have required the new Wal-Mart, and other new big-box stores, to have comprehensive recycling centers ...

ncarlson 7 years, 5 months ago

I was a resident of Lawrence for many years and have recently moved to Tucson. Tucson has a city-wide recycling program run by the city. There's no confusion as to "where to take the recycling", and it's all one coordinated system. A system consisting of several recycling centers and companies seems ad-hoc and uncoordinated to me. A collective problem is generally best solved in a collective manner. I prefer a solution rooted in the community, where collectively we say, "This is something we need to do together." As to the "cost" of a city-wide system, this was ill-defined in the editorial and in the survey. We need to look beyond short-term monthly costs (which pale beside, say, how much of our tax dollars we choose to allocate to unnecessary military ventures), and realize that if we don't take all the steps necessary to safeguard the environment of our planet, our only home, there's a far greater price waiting to be paid, and probably sooner than we think. This isn't just some ``Greenie" line, a name Marion used in a derogatory manner, it's about responsibility. It's high-time Lawrence had a city-wide recycling program and finally got in tune with what many similar cities are doing.

pace 7 years, 5 months ago

I find the ideas presented worth following, I am not worried that a curbside collection plan won't be perfect, i am worried they will continue to do nothing. just make it so we aren't driving all over town at 4dollars a gallon. Curbside is more efficient and encourages people to participate. I realize I am being picky but for the LJW to write an editorial to discourage efficient recycling of newspapers is horrible. Even the beer companies support the recycling of their cans. The newspaper seems to be in complete denial that they are a huge part of the paper chain. Great market for newspapers/cardboard, not a gold mine like the metals but steady and many local users in kansas. What in the world are they thinking. Curbside collection would recover a huge amount of their own product and they say sure the environment is important but not important enough to do it in an efficient and inclusive manner.

ontheotherhand 7 years, 5 months ago

Marion, yes, we might never run out of actual space to place landfills, but how far are cities willing to go with (and pay for) their trash? Manhattan's landfill filled up years ago and they were driving semi trucks to Lawrence's landfill. Sorry, I do not know if they still do it, but I know they did back in the late 90s, early 00s. The barges that take trash out of New York City every day (to take their trash elsewhere) cannot be cheap. Who wants that in their back yard?Also, your citation stated that today's landfills are not near water supplies and golf courses are even built on top of them. That sounds good, but I wonder if someone will build on top of these areas 30, 40, 50 years from now. (That's a rhetorical question. I don't think any of us know the answer.)

Stephen Roberts 7 years, 5 months ago

Merrill:Ask Boog, Schauner & Rundle why they kept on spending when tax revenues were falling? Come on ask your buddies please!!! A Huge part of the problem is people wanting money from the city.If residential doesn't pay, please feel free to send a check to city to pay for your share. Since you house is a lot older than mine, you would owe a heck of a lot of money.

pace 7 years, 5 months ago

Continue investing in landfill only disposal of all things put out at the curb is a not a good long range plan. paper and metals are resources that could bolster our economy. Yes it will cost to effect change, but the wins are more than environmental and long term economics. Curbside collection is inclusive, it encourages people to act, to accept responsibility for how they handle the materials that are so convenient. A lot of packaging is just not necessary, The ljw seems to be saying, ignore the waste costs of our product, we are not responsible for anything we sell once we have got it sold. Well they should be, they should be encouraging methods that help their main product be used in environmental and economically positive ways. Not blow off the environment because they would prefer not to accept their part of the responsibility and they seem to be saying the community shouldn't care if they don't.

phenommenom 7 years, 5 months ago

I think I am falling in love with Merrill......

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