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Archive for Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wrong solution

September 13, 2009

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It’s hard to understand what the city is trying to accomplish by simply duplicating curbside recycling services already available through private firms.

City of Lawrence staff members are edging toward a municipal recycling service that makes no sense for taxpayers or residential recyclers.

Leaders in the city’s public works department reportedly are considering a pilot project that would allow up to 2,000 Lawrence homes to sign up for a city-run, every-other-week curbside recycling pickup. They told the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board that they saw the service as a way to break into recycling without forcing the existing private curbside recycling services out of business.

Perhaps not, but the service the city would be providing would be identical to the service that already is readily available through private businesses that don’t require taxpayer support — at about the same cost to customers. What is the point?

In discussing the proposal, members of the city staff and advisory board came up with a number of silly justifications. They said a city-run service would be more prominent, unlike the current services, which one board member viewed as “kind of invisible.” Having a city service also would make recycling seem more “normal,” said another board member, not “a freak-show hippie thing.”

All those people out there using private recycling services may be surprised to find themselves lumped into such an alternative lifestyle kind of category.

Encouraging more recycling in the city is a good goal, but there still seems to be no justification for the city to get involved in curbside pickup, certainly not in a system that simply duplicates the optional services already available. Several other ideas discussed by the sustainability board had varying degrees of merit. One bad idea was to simply require customers of private recyclers to use — presumably after purchasing — a specific recycling bin. The rationale is that the bin would be recognizable and act as a way to publicize recycling services in the city.

Another questionable idea is to have a franchise agreement with a single curbside recycler to provide service throughout the city. This would keep the business in private hands, while allowing the city some control over service provided, but why narrow the field to a single business?

The proposal that makes the most sense is to establish some kind of simple licensing process for private curbside recyclers. If the city could do this without placing an undue burden on the private firms, it would allow the city to provide some modest oversight over the businesses and how they dispose of the material they pick up. Although the city currently lists local private recyclers on its Web site, perhaps it would be more comfortable with giving the businesses additional publicity in utility bills and other venues, addressing the visibility concern.

Fortunately, the advisory board declined to endorse the public works plan. Creating a city service that simply duplicates existing services is wasteful and unlikely to cause a significant increase in the number of Lawrence residents who opt for curbside recycling. The city needs to go back to the drawing board.

Comments

tir 4 years, 7 months ago

I wish the city would add to the existing unstaffed recycling drop-off locations around town, and increase the types of materials that can be recycled at them. Making it more convenient to drop things off would encourage more recycling but not cost nearly as much as adding city-run curbside pickup.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 7 months ago

The pilot program seems to me is more about gathering data.

To the best of my knowledge nothing has been decided.

It's more about improving what is available.

It's a lot about increasing the public awareness of what exactly is available.

http://www.lawrenceks.org/wrr/residentialrecycling1

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Bruce Bertsch 4 years, 7 months ago

Having lived where recycling was mandatory, the idea that a place like Walmart collects more is on its face absurd. If all the people that bitched about government control of recycling actually used the existing facilitites, we wouldn't need governmental policy. The other issue with waste is that we can't just go on burying it forever. Out of sight does not mean out of the food chain or water table.

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texburgh 4 years, 7 months ago

Man, toe, you're right!

Darn power mad city wants to collect my garbage and take whatever I flush down my toilet! Just this summer, in their mad desire to control me, they repaired the curb and gutter in front of my house! Next thing you know, if my house catches on fire, they'll send the fire department uninvited! If this continues, we WILL all be the servants of government!

Thank you for opening my eyes!

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John Reeves 4 years, 7 months ago

Dear editorialist: Where are the facts?

How many private curb-side recycling service companies available to households in Lawrence? How many current households and businesses use these services in Lawrence? How prominent or visible are the current curbside recycling services in Lawrence, or what percentage of households in Lawrence choose not to use the services? How many households take their recycling to the WalMart recycling center? The city website is mentioned in the editorial. Where is the link to the city website that lists these recycling companies?

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toe 4 years, 7 months ago

City wants to exercise power any way it can. Eventually, we will all be servants to government. Who needs a king?

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normal_entire_route 4 years, 7 months ago

Optional is optional. And while that sounds nice, it won't get us where we need to be. With the population expanding and the trash piling up, one day, we will all have to pitch in and recycle if we are all to be effective. Its just a reality that some don't want to face. Just like the U.S. auto makers, the coal companies and everyone else sticking their head in the sand.

No one likes to be told what to do. But eventually, comprehensive recycling will happen. And its the right thing to do. Leadership is doing the right thing. And Lawrence needs more leadership.

On the flip side, this editor's opinion simply sounds like, "Please, please, don't make me eat my cereal. I don't want to grow up."

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texburgh 4 years, 7 months ago

While I like the idea of city-run recycling, my experience in other places is that city programs generally pick up less stuff than can be recycled at a place like the Walmart center here in town. We have - at Walmart and many other locations - free recycling. We have private vendors that will pick your stuff up if you don't want the bother of hauling it yourself. Why don't we just provide a little free publicity for those avenues? Recycle for free yourself or pay a vendor...your choice. Let's encourage the expansion of those things we have right now. Lawrence does not need curbside recycling. We just need more people to take advantage of the many opportunities they have right now.

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cowboy 4 years, 7 months ago

this seems another of low to no priority ideas that somehow take on a life of it's on in city priorities. since the city lacks any defined long term goals and is in reactionary mode most of the time these viral projects go from pipe dream to expenditure in a rather odd process. Other examples are the Farmland debacle , and the more recent depot restoration. I drove by the depot the other day and took a close look and there is nothing of note there that I would see as historic or attractive. With Lawrence's dismal history of attracting business and the current economy acquiring Farmland is extremely poorly timed.

It would be refreshing to see this city staff and commission focus on improving current operations and capturing efficiencies in government operations. They seem to have little interest in this though and would rather spend time on bullsh!t .

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Les Blevins 4 years, 7 months ago

It isn't really so hard to understand; by getting into curb-side recycling the city is wisely starting to lay the ground work for collection of municipal solid wastes (MSW) so that the city can establish its domain over this valuable resource and divert the fraction of locally generated MSW that is suited for energy recovery at a biorefinery to that end. It is city policy that I have advocated for 25+ years.

We have the necessary resources to meet most of our energy needs in the future with renewable energy. Until fairly recently one key strategy has, for the most part, been overlooked in North America. This innovative strategy involves the cooperative and collaborative installation and ownership of advanced renewable energy projects at the local, community level. A biorefinery that can produce electric power and cellulosic biofuels is one type of advanced alternative energy project that meets everyone’s needs.

When applied to wind derived energy for example, this strategy falls in between the large-scale commercial wind farm and the small residential wind turbine, and has been described as "The Third Way." This middle strategy, also referred to as Community Supported Energy, relies on somewhat smaller scale projects that are developed, sited and owned by members of the local community rather than out-of-state corporate entities. Small scale biorefineries are a way for cities to increase the percentage of wastes that are diverted from the landfills and recycled and avoid paying tipping fees for essentially sweeping municipal wastes under the carpet to pollute groundwater, and it enables cities to do their share at reducing carbon emissions and do their share in addressing the peak oil problem.

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monkeyhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

Considering that sidewalks are deemed the property owners' responsibility, I'm not sure what your point is?

"Currently, sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, as defined by state statute (Chapter 12, Article 18 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated) and City Code (Chapter 16, Articles 1 and 2). "

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OonlyBonly 4 years, 7 months ago

monkeyhawk They could work on some central core area sidewalks also - but that would be too logical

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monkeyhawk 4 years, 7 months ago

Obama fever is contagious. The board (merrill) wants to force the citizens to pay for something that the board wants everyone to do. Recycling is a good thing, but is not a core service that the city should get involved in at the detriment of existing private enterprise.

Here is a core service that the city could involved with - just fix the broken streets and stop looking for every and anything else to avoid performing basic duties.

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akuna 4 years, 7 months ago

I use a commercial recycling service and support a municipal recycling program.

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