Don’t expect city-sponsored curbside recycling in Lawrence anytime soon.
Bob Yoos, the city’s solid waste superintendent, said that implementing such a municipal service would likely boost the community’s current recycling rate of 35 percent — the highest in Kansas — to about 37 percent or 38 percent.
Such a rise, of course, would come at a price.
“We would divert a lot of what’s being collected through cheaper programs into more expensive programs,” Yoos said last week, discussing the Douglas-Jefferson County Solid Waste Management Plan.
Yoos said that five private companies already were providing customers in Lawrence with curbside recycling service.
About 10 percent of Lawrence residents are signed up for curbside recycling, Yoos said. Others take their bottles, cans, chipboard and other recyclable materials to the community recycling center at Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa, or to other drop-off sites.
“A lot of people feel that the drop-off sites serve them well,” Yoos said.
The bulk of recycled materials in Lawrence is yard waste — mostly grass clippings and leaves — and cardboard, collected from residents and businesses.
Overall, the amount of waste headed to the Hamm Sanitary Landfill in Jefferson County is holding steady, said Keith Browning, Douglas County engineer and director of public works, who serves on the counties’ joint Solid Waste Management Committee.
Increased recycling in Lawrence — 30,313 tons in 2007, up from 2,000 tons in 1991 — has been key in keeping the amount of waste from growing along with the communities the landfill serves.
Charlie Sedlock, waste manager for Hamm, said that the landfill welcomed the efforts to manage the waste stream. Lawrence recently conducted the third of three “e-waste” events, during each of which about 50 tons of TVs, computer monitors and other electronics were collected and therefore diverted from becoming potential environmental problems at the landfill.
The landfill, by the way, won’t be filled anytime soon. “We’re looking at about 80 years of capacity (remaining),” Sedlock said. “It’s a much, much bigger area out there.”