Archive for Friday, June 12, 2009

Wal-Mart cuts back hours at recycling center

Wal-Mart is cutting hours at its community recycling center in Lawrence, as the world’s largest retailer welcomes assistance from City Hall to help stem losses amid a collapse in revenues from recycled materials.

June 12, 2009, 4:02 p.m. Updated June 13, 2009, 3:36 a.m.


Wal-Mart is cutting hours at its community recycling center in Lawrence, as the world’s largest retailer welcomes assistance from City Hall to help stem losses amid a collapse in revenues from recycled materials.

Wal-Mart’s Eco Center, which is adjacent to the retailer’s supercenter at 3300 Iowa, now will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week, and closed entirely on Tuesdays and all major holidays.

The center had been open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, except when closed for a single holiday: Christmas Day.

“The recycling market has really tanked, in the economy that we’ve got today,” said Bill Wertz, a Wal-Mart spokesman. “Costs haven’t gone down, but the price the center gets for its materials has really gone done.

“We haven’t changed our minds about recycling. We haven’t diminished our commitment to do it. But we still need to keep the center on a sustainable basis itself.”

The Eco Center is owned by Wal-Mart, and the retailer pays Community Living Opportunities to operate it with the agency’s own employees and clients.

The center is open to the public for dropping off a variety of materials for recycling, including aluminum, glass, cardboard, chipboard, milk bottles, newspapers and others.

Now, as prices paid for those materials have dropped, Wal-Mart has been looking for ways to keep the center viable, Wertz said.

The schedule change is one method, he said, noting that Tuesdays had traditionally been the slowest for the center.

“It’s really an effort to keep the center on a sustainable cost basis,” he said.

The city of Lawrence also is poised to help.

Tuesday night, Lawrence city commissioners will consider purchasing a refurbished baling machine to handle aluminum and steel cans. The total cost would be no higher than $5,000, and would be operated and maintained at the expense of Wal-Mart.

The center currently has no baler for such cans, cutting into the efficiency of selling the materials for reuse.

David Corliss, city manager, said the investment would pay off through the savings from otherwise collecting and dump such cans in a landfill north of town.

“What we were faced with was Wal-Mart finding that it was not economical, as far as their Eco Center goes, to continue to recycle tin,” Corliss said. “They needed a baler in order to do it. I know that place is a popular place for recycling.

“So, for the relatively modest amount that we are spending, we’ll be able to keep recycling tin at that location. The market for recyclables is down, but the need for recycling is not.”

Wertz, of Wal-Mart, said that he was unaware of just how much recycling revenues had declined.

But Kathy Richardson, the city’s operations supervisor for waste reduction and recycling, confirmed that the market for at least four materials the city collects — corrugated cardboard, newspapers, office paper and mixed paper — remains down.

Through the first five months of this year, she said, the city had generated $35,000 in revenue from such materials. For the same period a year ago — and for essentially the same amount collected — the city had received $112,000.

“That gives you a picture,” she said.

Commissioners will consider the baler purchase during their weekly meeting, which begins at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.


timetospeakup 8 years, 11 months ago

Hey I know - let's have the homeless people camp out here, and in exchange they've gotta staff the recycling center. They can have the last of the beer in not quite empty bottles!

blindrabbit 8 years, 11 months ago

I've heard that it is not cost effective to recycle glass, and that much/most of the glass collected at Walmart (and others) goes to the landfill! Is there any truth to this???

Kornphlake 8 years, 11 months ago

Awesome, city gives Wal-Mart money, they cut my job at the recycling center. Fantastic, glad to see they used the economic downturn as a reason to cut back at the recycling center and ask for money from Lawrence. The economic downturn has not lowered the number of recyclers at all. Just Wal-Marts profits. To be truthful the recycling center has never been profitable. That's not the point, it never has been. There are plenty of steps Wal-Mart could have took to make the place more profitable. I have suggested on numerous occasions that they sell recycling bins and related products, as nobody in Lawrence does this. I was told very flatly that if I wanted to see that, to start my own recycling center and do it myself. The thing that nobody has mentioned here is the amount of traffic this recycling center brings to that Wal-Mart location. The recycling center is it's own separate entity, not on the Iowa st. Wal-Marts budget. So the only value that it is getting on paper is recycled goods. If you were to look at the recycling center as advertising, it would be as cost effective as any advertising medium. I understand the fact that it's a good business decision to cut back hours and employees. I am not angry with this. But I'll be damned if I sit idly by while the city of Lawrence gives Wal-Mart money for a "for profit" recycling center. Now it's time to go work one of my last weekends at a job I have really enjoyed. The people I have gotten to talk to over the last couple of years out there have made this one of the better jobs I've ever had. Lawrence, I would just like to thank you for all the smiles and good day's you have provided me at work. And to the City of Lawrence, why is there no city recycling center? This is dumb relying on Wal-Mart, it's only a matter of time before they stick it to you over this and you end up taking on part of the cost of Wal-Mart's number one advertising medium in Lawrence.

nut_case 8 years, 11 months ago

I was always a bit curious of the economics of having a "staffed" recycling center with people basically setting around listening to the radio as small trash cans slowly fill up with material - as opposed to the simple unmanned collection bins which seem to pop up every place else.

overthemoon 8 years, 11 months ago

b penders.

the problem is not the amount of material brought to the recycling center. it is selling it to the various industries that use the material to make new products. And by the way, I use reusable bags everywhere. I am very happy to not have so many plastic bags coming home from every shopping trip.

Seth Hanes 8 years, 11 months ago

People in this town need to recycle more. On garbage day I see all kinds of stuff that could be recycled on the curb. People are just so lazy. To lazy to seperate the recycled items and take them to Walmart when they are going there anyways.

Deb Stavin 8 years, 11 months ago

For a remarkably low price (about $15/month residential) a local sole-proprietor company like Jeff's Curbside Recycling will pick up most of your recyclables at your house, every week. There's a list of such services at this link:

The Checkers parking lot is a good alternative to Wal-Mart if you want to drop off your own recyclables. Why doesn't the city buy a baler for Checkers, a company that really gives Lawrence value for money? You be the judge!

Richard Heckler 8 years, 11 months ago

Wal-Mart not making money from the impulse shoppers who drop in after recycling? Yeah right.

Now they strong arm the city tax payers for more corporate welfare. Hmmmmmmmmm

Who pays the recycling staff people? They are not Wal-Mart employees.

bearded_gnome 8 years, 11 months ago

Wal-mart cuts back on recycling center hours!

Oh! the humanity!

how dreadful!

this deserved a headline and article, picture, google map, illustration, online video, a poll, an OTS question, and getting three users thrown off! LOL!

well, we already know Wal-mart is evil, why would anybody even take their empty beer cans in there anyway?

I tell ya', its Wal-mart's plan to keep the little guy down, abuse its workers, and generally abuse the american consumer are why they don't have a recycling center at the westie-wal-mart!

and, they wanted to further ghettoize the one on south iowa by keeping the only recycling center there, but its closed now on tuesdays!

evil Wal-mart, conspiracy, behavior control technicians. heck, Wal-mart probably owns the company that operated that helicopter that was supposedly examining the rooves.

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