Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pilot curbside recycling plan gains traction

Program could offer service for up to 2,000 homes in 2010

Discussion is underway about a pilot curbside recycling program that could begin next year.

September 10, 2009


A city-run curbside recycling program may be coming to a curb near you in 2010.

City staff members are taking their hardest look yet at creating a pilot project to test the feasibility of a citywide curbside recycling service.

Leaders with the city’s public works department on Wednesday told members of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board that they were considering a pilot project that would allow up to 2,000 homes around the city to sign up for a city-run, every-other-week curbside recycling program. The city would charge participating households a rate similar to what private curbside companies currently charge Lawrence residents.

Tamara Bennett, an assistant director for public works, said her department was recommending the option because it was seen as a way for the city to get into the curbside recycling business without forcing the at least five private companies that offer curbside recycling service in Lawrence out of business.

Owners of several of the private companies, however, weren’t so sure.

“I don’t understand what you are trying to do,” said Daron Trent, an owner of Lawrence-based Tree Hugger Recycling. “How is this different than what you have? You’re just adding a public option to the private options that already exist.”

But some members of the city’s advisory board said having the city offer a service might cause more people to think about signing up.

“If the city starts offering this, it might help some people see that this is not a freak-show hippie thing,” said Sarah Hill-Nelson, a member of the board. “People would see recycling is normal. Everybody does it. The city is involved.”

Board members said city involvement also may make the program more visible. “We have curbside recycling, but it is kind of invisible today,” said Daniel Poull, chair of the board.

But the board stopped well short of endorsing the public works department’s plan. Instead several other ideas were brought up for future consideration. They included:

• Licensing the private companies that provide service in the city. Some board members said if the companies would go through a licensing process, that the city may be comfortable in promoting the companies by placing their names and contact information on city utility bills mailed out each month.

• A recycling bin program that would require customers of the private companies to use a standardized recycling bin placed at the curb. The standardized bins would draw attention to the program, and make it more evident to passersby that curbside recycling services are offered in the city.

• A franchise system where the city would contract with one or more private companies to provide curbside recycling services to the entire city or specific neighborhoods in the city.

The board did not have discussion about creating a mandatory, citywide program that would require every household to pay for curbside recycling whether they used the service or not. Previous City Hall studies have estimated that weekly curbside service would add $12 per month to the bills of all customers, while every-other-week service would add $9 per month.

The city hasn’t prepared solid estimates on how much it would cost to create the proposed pilot program, although it would require the hiring of three new employees.

Ultimately, city commissioners will be responsible for deciding whether to move forward on a curbside recycling program.


igby 8 years, 9 months ago

Force them out of business, I want the tax payers so f*king broke in this town they can't even eat. The city did it to the bus companies why not the recyclers like WalMart and curbside Joe's pick and pay. Lol.

Kyle Miller 8 years, 9 months ago

I recycle............ right into the trash can!

Kat Christian 8 years, 9 months ago

Just a bandaid of the real problems WHICH IS OVER PACKAGING by companies who use it for an excuse to charge a higher price for their product. I say the government get after these companies to trim down (simplify) their packaging process to one container instead of 2-3. I swear when I cook a meal I fill up 1/4 of the trash bin just in packaging material. Plus, I don't have the time or the space to seperate my trash - so into one container it will go, until someone comes up with an efficient, spacesaver, less costly way of doing it.

roger_o_thornhill 8 years, 9 months ago

I grew up in a far, FAR more conservative, much smaller town in Texas and they got on the bandwagon with recycling at the curb with a fancy sorting truck 15 years ago. Not recycling is lazy, irresponsible, and pathetic. It isn't some partisan issue. It isn't some tree-hugger issue. It isn't something Al Gore invented. It is a responsible, long term approach to land management as well as a sound basis for future economic activity. Many products can be made more efficiently (thus more cheaply) using post-consumer waste. Raw material extraction and processing is very costly--it just requires less capital investment since production is already geared toward that purpose.

Joseph Jarvis 8 years, 9 months ago

It's about time. This is not un-American socialism people; lot's of cities offer municipal recycling, and capitalism didn't die.

As for the "success" of the current private market, I contract for pick-up with a local company. I'm unimpressed because it's non-responsive, run amateurly, and offers an inconvenient pick-up schedule. I have no recourse except to switch providers, and I don't because other providers don't pick up as many types of recyclables.

A municipal service could offer more accountable service and put the public interest over economic decisions about what types of recyclables to take. I think more people would recycle too because they don't currently know to go to the private marketplace or how to choose meaningfully between private providers.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 9 months ago

I already pay the city for trash removal therefore I have no desire to spend all my free time sorting trash in order to pay them more.

Matt Schwartz 8 years, 9 months ago

force wal-mart's recycling out of business...igby, you ignorant.

cowboy 8 years, 9 months ago

let the private market fill the need. Why is the city looking for opportunities to waste more tax dollars.

By the way , where is the follow-up to the solid waste audit ?

tir 8 years, 9 months ago

It sounds like the city would just be making it harder for the private curbside recycling firms, which is very misguided and unfair. And contracting with outside providers would certainly end up costing everyone more for city services. I certainly don't want to pay more for trash services. I recycle most of my household trash already by taking it to various pickup places, and throw away very little, but I still have to pay full price for trash pickup.

If the city wants people to recycle more, they should make people who throw away more trash pay more for the privilege of doing so. They should also encourage voluntary recycling by providing more places to take recyclables, and increase the types of items you can recycle at each place. I often use the bins for paper and cardboard at Checkers but they do not take steel cans, glass or plastic. Walmart takes these things but it is less convenient to go there since they have cut back on hours. Out of frustration, some people have even begun dumping off things when the Recycling Center is closed, which is annoying since the staff have to take care of moving the dumped recyclables inside before they can open up for the people waiting to drop things off.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

"The city would charge participating households a rate similar to what private curbside companies currently charge Lawrence residents."

More and more and more government competition with private industry. To use a cliche, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

quimby 8 years, 9 months ago

I support a city-wide curb side recycling program - Anything to get people recycling more than they currently do. If conservative KC suburbs can do this, so can we.

bondmen 8 years, 9 months ago

Pilots have clearly shown they can successfully recycle now how about those of us who bicycle and drive automobiles? When can we begin to recycle?

mdfraz 8 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Thornhill (or O'Thornhill) I agree with your post. I'm in no way a tree hugger, but I also don't see why it's so hard to reuse what we have. Not only does it cut down on the use of resources to make more of what's already been created and distributed, it cuts down on waste at landfills. Right now (and for almost all 12 years I've been in Lawrence) I sort my stuff and even take it to WalMart, which isn't easy, even though their hours have improved over time.

If the city can offer a program that will increase recycling and isn't too expensive, fine. If private companies can do it more efficiently and effectively, even better.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

"Anything to get people recycling more than they currently do." -quimby

Read: "Anything to support my priorities."

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

During WWII, the whole country recycled like mad and they rationed just about everything. It was like an entire SOCIETY pulled together for a common cause....that's not socialism, it? Anyway, since all the conservatives seem to wish we could go back to WWII, they should be TOTALLY on board with recycling drives and rationing for the war effort. Lets not forget, we ARE at war....or at least the marine corps is at war.

alm77 8 years, 9 months ago

I am completely outraged! We have FIVE (last time I counted) curbside recycling businesses in Lawrence!! I pay only $18 a month for my weekly pickup. I went with There is no need for the city to provide this service. If you want it, do your research, pick a company and go for it.

driedoregano, you can take your batteries to Pinckney Elementary School. I think they even get money for them.

alm77 8 years, 9 months ago

OH, and if the city wants to "raise awareness" then they can send a list of the companies in with our water bill!

Marcus DeMond 8 years, 9 months ago

I pay less than $9 to recycle now, but it's only picked up once a month. I would be delighted to pay $9 to have it picked up twice a month if I didn't have to sort it. That is the worst part about the private companies. None of them have the equipment to pick up one container and sort it later. All of these different tubs in my garage is taking up too much space! Good work Lawrence moving forward on this. Don't listen to the whiners on this forum who don't think long term about our city's waste management let alone the environment.

quimby 8 years, 9 months ago

I can see you're out for me, "SettingTheRecordStraight". It's ironic to me that your user is as such. But that doesn't surprise me, given that a ridiculous news station such as Fox uses "fair and balanced" as a slogan. Ha! If you did your homework, you would see that environmental issues (which are also economic and community issues) are always high on the list of community priorities. It's about time that people start thinking outside of their own little worlds - So, contrary to what you think about me, this is not just about what I want or what's good for me.

TXHAWX 8 years, 9 months ago

If Larry wants to do city service recycling...then fine, make sure that each house has the city trash can and can only put trash out in that. One can will force families to recycle. Just moved to TX and it works. People recycle like crazy because they don't have enough room for everything in the can. If you have extra bags beside the can they won't pick them up unless they are tagged. It sucked for move in but overall makes sense.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago


Shall I hand over my paycheck to you now or just the keys to my business?

quimby 8 years, 9 months ago

Really, STRS? Why so much drama? Do you not see the connection between a healthy environment and strong economy? We actually have similar goals, I'm guessing. As I said before, we determine where our tax dollars go with how we vote and where we spend our money.

d_prowess 8 years, 9 months ago

I love the licensing option that was mentioned in the article. The benefit to businesses would be that they then have their information included in the trash bills to residents, which will promote recycling by providing a simple list of options. The process could probably be fairly simple and thus not cost too much for the businesses (plus it would result in decent advertising).
This option would really have the least impact on our residents as it would not require people to get new bins (one of the other possibilities) or to switch companies (if the city choose only one vendor to handle it all).

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

be3 (Anonymous) says…

"What's the point, most of what people recycle will end up in the landfill anyways. The recycling market is very over saturated."

And there it is!!! Keep sayin' that BS over and over and maybe it'll be true: death pannels, moon landing a hoax, govt. behind 9/11, Elvis lives, blah, blah, blah..... Dispite the fact that only a small portion of the PLASTICS market are oversaturated, the overstock doesn't go to a landfill sparky, they just stockpile outside in bales. I only seem to hear this BS line from conservatives who can't be bothered to untether themselves from a culture of waste and bloat.

govenorteacup 8 years, 9 months ago

I've heard about one city that has a plan that goes like this, someone else has mentioned it on another online article:

-Free recycling pickup, no matter how many bins/bags -2 free bags of trash pickup -For every bag of trash after the 2 free pickups, a 1$ ticket is added.

I kind of like it.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago


Of course I want a healthy environment. I just don't want the government unnecessarily competing with private industry in an attempt to attain it.

Local government has neither the right nor the responsibility to get involved in the curbside recycling business.

kla4one 8 years, 9 months ago

Long term it will probably be mandated in the future when we start running out of space for landfills and the laws get better to ban sending our waste to 3rd world countries. Better to be proactive and start public programs now to get people ready for inevitable mandates down the line. Americans are so lazy and so spoiled about waste disposal. Many cities mandate trash organization into recyclables and non-recyclables now. Just like healthcare, we are one of the last holdouts of industrialized countries to make meaningful changes to limit the trash we produce. I'm as lazy as the next person and would not look forward to having to pay for the amount of trash I put out each week, but that's the way it should be. (Exactly the way we pay for other utilities like water, gas, electricity, etc., by the way.) Probably the only reason it's not done now is it would be a nightmare to implement--and I mean just in terms of how to design and implement a program where each household pays a rate based on their trash production. The nightmare of belligerent trash producers screaming about government intervention is a whole other issue.

lawrencechick 8 years, 9 months ago

I do not need curbside recycling, it is not that hard to take your recycling to Walmart or any of the dozens of bins around town. In such tough times they better not even think about adding more money to my bills so I don't have to walk past my curb.

seriouscat 8 years, 9 months ago

yay! I support curbside recycling and say it's about time Lawrence!

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