Archive for Monday, August 29, 2011

Solid Waste Task Force’s trash talks suggest new era of recycling around corner

John Harjo pushes a trash bin while members of the city's Solid Waste Task Force observe, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The task force took a tour to learn more about of Lawrence trash and recycling operations.

John Harjo pushes a trash bin while members of the city's Solid Waste Task Force observe, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The task force took a tour to learn more about of Lawrence trash and recycling operations.

August 29, 2011


The work of the city’s Solid Waste Task Force isn’t done yet, but Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell senses an emerging theme.

“I think this really could be the very beginning of a new era of recycling in Lawrence,” Cromwell said.

If Cromwell’s sense is right, expect that new era to include mandated plastic trash carts and a much more aggressive curbside recycling program.

Cromwell said he thinks the task force is close to reaching consensus on requiring residents to use plastic trash carts that can be hooked up to hydraulic lifts on sanitation trucks, making the process quicker and safer for the city’s trash crews. But the carts would mean that residents wouldn’t be allowed to set out traditional trash cans or bags for pickup, except on special dates established by the city.

Cromwell also said the task force will have serious discussions in the next several weeks about a program that would require all city residents to pay for a curbside recycling program, regardless of whether they use it. Cromwell said one idea is that all city households would receive — and pay for — two plastic carts: one for trash and one for recyclable materials.

A key question, though, is whether city crews would pick up the curbside recycling or whether it would contract with a private company. Either way, Cromwell expects the city would handle the billing for the service.

“Really, this is the current state of how things are done in solid waste,” Cromwell said. “This wouldn’t put us on the forefront of what progressive communities are doing. It would just catch us up with what a lot of other communities already are doing.”

Whether it is what Lawrence will want to do, though, is an open question. The task force, which began meeting in April, won’t have the final say on the matter. City commissioners ultimately will be responsible for approving any changes to the city’s trash or recycling systems.

But other task force members said their report is likely to include a heavy emphasis on how to improve the city’s recycling services.

“It has been clear that there is tremendous potential to reduce the flow of waste to the landfill and convert that material into new products,” said Joe Harkins, a member of the city’s task force. “There is a clear sentiment to look very closely at how we can do that.”

Cromwell said if the issue gets derailed, it most likely will be because of cost concerns. A new system that included carts and a recycling program would require an increase in the city’s monthly trash rate. But Cromwell said he’s optimistic the increase would be reasonable.

Cromwell said some data have suggested that it would require an increase in trash rates of anywhere from $4 to $8 per month, but he said the task force still has more work to do firm up those estimates. Cromwell has said that even without changes to the system, he anticipates a rate increase in order to replace aging equipment and to shore up the service’s finances.

Currently, the city does not offer a curbside recycling program. But residents can contract with one of a number of private curbside recycling providers. Cromwell said there had been discussion about whether the city should leave that system well enough alone.

Cromwell said he’ll advocate for a change that requires everyone to pay for a curbside recycling service. He thinks that will produce a powerful incentive for more people to recycle.

“I thought I was a pretty good recycler before,” said Cromwell, who owns an environmental consulting firm. “But then I signed up for the Deffenbaugh program and realized I was recycling twice as much as I was before. When you can just throw it in a container and forget about it, it makes it so much easier.

“I’m confident people would find themselves recycling a lot more.”

The 11-member task force is expected to produce a draft report for the public to begin reviewing by the end of the year. City commissioners then would begin considering the report’s recommendations in 2012.


justforfun 6 years, 4 months ago

Well I hope the other 12 people in the picture watching now know how to dump a waste container. =)

irvan moore 6 years, 4 months ago

wow, the mayor of Lawrence does his recycling business with an out of town company instead of local recyclers, not something you should be proud of mayor. we don't have much trash and we recycle now, don't think i should have to pay for those with huge amounts of trash every week, don't want a couple of big containers cluttering up the yard either.

Lee Eldridge 6 years, 4 months ago

We pay $5 per month to Deffenbaugh and that includes weekly pickup AND a container. Why is the city looking to replace a privately owned system that already exists that's likely cheaper than the city alternative?

average 6 years, 4 months ago

Deffenbaugh charges more than that for the same recycling service in towns that are much closer to their recycling facility. It's a loss-leader so they have visibility in the community and will be the default option if the city privatizes. You can't expect it's going to be $5 (actually $7.50... they've been tacking on a 'fuel surcharge' the last several months) forever.

kinder_world 6 years, 4 months ago

My family puts out only a small bag of trash. That is because we recycle everything that can be recycled locally. The mayor "thought I was a pretty good recycler before" obviously has NO CLUE. Even Deffenbaugh does not pick up all items that can be recycled so I use a local recycler. I have had a system in place for recycling for years. It is clean, organized, and only costs me my time. No ugly plastic bin, no extra costs.

parrothead8 6 years, 4 months ago

We never put out more than one small bag of trash either. The only thing Deffenbaugh doesn't take from us is food waste (most of which we compost) and glass (which we take to the recycling center about once every three months.) How does your system only cost you your time? Do you not use any gas to take your recyclable materials somewhere? Is your time free?

kinder_world 6 years, 4 months ago

Take recycling when I already have to be on that side of town for some other reason. No extra trips. Saves on gas. Small amount of extra time. Takes time to pick a penny up off the ground but I still do it. Everyone has their own priorities and how they are willing to spend their time.

conservative 6 years, 4 months ago

The city needs to stay out of recycling, they have proven they can't control costs. Defenbaugh already does it cheaper than the city has said they can do the same job. For the people who keep saying defenbaugh is doing it at a loss bto get our other business then why do people in Lenexa who already have defenbaugh trash service have the same great rate on the recycling? the whole point of this commission was to figure out how to rein in costs of trash service not to try and expand the losses or increase charges. They need to look at privatizing the whole thing if they can't be competitive with what happens in neighboring cities with the same dump fees.

Don Whiteley 6 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence considers itself to be a progressive community, yet they find themselves years late and dollars short implementing a program most other cities already have. However, with everything else they do, the cost of this program is worrisome. The City of Lawrence has a habit of turning even the most mundane things into extravagantly expensive operations. The fact that they consider our water and sewer rates reasonable is absolutely frightening.

SofaKing 6 years, 4 months ago

I just bought a very nice plastic trash container. Maybe I could put a plant in it.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 4 months ago

When I don't have room to store two of the containers the city demands I rent from them in my garage, are they going to issue me a ticket because they are sitting in my yard?

So they add additional staff to manage this program, when they could sell the rights to a private, tax paying company, and reduce the cost to the city. How forward thinking is that?

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

Ours has always sit to the side of our driveway next to the garage, never in it. They are so easy to move down to the street.

Bob Forer 6 years, 4 months ago

Petit bourgeois liberalism at its best. They want to "save" the environment. But instead of going after the multi-national corporations and work towards alternative energies--both of which have great potential to actually impact the environment--they take the easy and expedient way out: local recycling. its a lot easier to partake of a little local tokenism. This way they can give themselves a pat on the back and wash their hands clean of the issue. More importantly, they avoid challenging the monied interests. Don't want to upset the rich folks, do ya now?

Trollbait 6 years, 4 months ago

This is how larger communities have been dealing with this issue. It is not extreme. It is not a token--it is doing what you can do. Evolve your thinking past a $4 dollar increase per month or the storage of the containers.

irvan moore 6 years, 4 months ago

won't we have to recycle the big plastic containers someday?

Chris Scafe 6 years, 4 months ago

They are durable and last a really long time, but yes, when their time is up they can be recycled.

Getaroom 6 years, 4 months ago

Hey ..Syco...: This is not Liberalism! If you want to talk about managing tax payer money then how, as a small community, do you manage a giant corporations decision to raise rates down the road themselves and by the way they will? This is called keeping it at home. Maybe you do not think you like Chromwell, but then are you for giant corporations running everything? Those are the rich folks by the way. In some Ohio cities (as one example) people pay for only the trash they put out not a fixed amount every month. That maybe more to your liking, rather then this LIBERAL agenda you think we may have down the road. Tokenism? Perhaps you need to look more deeply into what has been happening in the Federal government and the Corporatization of American. You support that all the way? Are you also for the privatization of Social Security? Look where we would have been during the stock marker crashes over the yeas had that been in effect. Maybe you hate paying for public roads you use everyday because you are paying for LIBERALS to use those too. And "cant_ have_ it both_ ways" is boohooing because there is not enough room to store two containers. Maybe you two can share containers. All options for improving the environment we all share need to be considered, but then I suppose you the EPA is to LIBERAL for you too?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 4 months ago

You just don't get it do you? I'll bet you are all for a nanny state, welfare for everyone, and no free market system.

homechanger 6 years, 4 months ago

It's only a few more dollars a month. Like the library is only a few more dollars a month or sewer rate increase or this or that. Those " only a few dollars" add up.

Pastor_Bedtime 6 years, 4 months ago

The law of unintended consequenses means we should get ready for huge piles of trash and debris everywhere from those who can't afford to ~ or won't ~ comply with these changes.

lawrencian 6 years, 4 months ago

Living in a townhome complex where all of our trash is in dumpsters, I question how this could work for us. Deffenbaugh won't let me rent the container. In spite of not owning a car, I still manage to recycle everything I possibly can (collecting a huge pile, then borrowing a car to take it away). And, almost all my food scraps go into a compost bin, which means I end up putting out a bag of trash about once every 10-14 days...

A big recycling container in place of one or two of the dumpsters in my townhome complex would be GREAT!

texburgh 6 years, 4 months ago

Here's another option: If the goal is to get more recycling so less goes into the landfill (a laudable goal) then issue city trashcans and recoup the cost with a per month fee that sunsets when the bins are paid for, charge residents for additional cans/bags at the street for pickup, and let the private contractors continue recycling programs.

Mandating that everyone pay for city recycling now that private contractors are doing that work is putting those contractors out of business. If the city bills everyone for recycling, then Deffenbaugh and others are at a competitive disadvantage. They came here in good faith because the city was doing nothing. They deserve the right to continue their business.

I and apparently most of my neighbors are happy with Deffenbaugh. They take nearly every recyclable, we don't have to sort, and what's left (glass and plastic bags) I can take to the Walmart recycling center for free.

The only way the city should do this is as a voluntary option but I still believe the best way is to encourage residents to use existing businesses by charging for trash that exceeds a certain limit which can be established with common trashcans.

skinny 6 years, 4 months ago

The city needs to stay out of recycling. It is not their job nor right to mandate recycling. You can bet there will be several law suits if they follow thru with this!!

Glo 6 years, 4 months ago

We tried to get a local recycler, but after waiting weeks and having our phone calls not returned, we called Deffenbaugh. We are so pleased with the service and convenience! No sorting and they take most everything- many plastics! They don't take glass, I image because of breakage. We used to sort and take our things to Walmart. Many of your local recycling businesses also take their loads to Walmart. They(local companies) essentially transport your recycleables for a fee. Deffenbaugh gets money from actually recycling at their plant. I feel we are helping the city by using Deffenbaugh and having the city take less of our trash to the landfill. We generally have as much for Deffenbaught as we have for the city.

Michael Bennett 6 years, 4 months ago

Recycling is obviously the main talking point of the readers, but it is short-sighted. Right now, our citizens are so freaking selfish that they are crippling people, good people, solid citizens, neighbors, dad's, brothers and husbands because they don't want to pay a couple bucks a month to go with polycarts. No one can lift the amount of weight the workers have to lift everyday, day after day, year after year without a back or shoulder going out and crippling the worker. I'll gladly pay the extra couple of dollars to quit crippling people for no reason.

tomatogrower 6 years, 4 months ago

This city doesn't have to make a profit. Private companies do. Deffenbaugh has low rates now, but they won't when they have run everyone else out of business.

George Lippencott 6 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if there might be some way to protect the current recycling providers. Perhaps the city could collect a charge and then distribute it to the recycling company one uses. Computers are wonderful at doing such neat value added tasks.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

The city could create zones, then contract by zone. Local recycling companies have a hard time because they are spread so thin.

We should give priority to local businesses.

George Lippencott 6 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how this will apply to renters in large complexes. By the city’s count, that is a large segment of our population. How will recycling be enforced? How will they pay?

Could this be another “feel good” attempt that will only impact half the population? We seem to be good at doing that.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

Communities outside of kansas have been recycling for a long time. We probably have a choice of tried systems.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 4 months ago

Oh great idea Cromy, how about the guys riding on the back of out present system, they are out of a job???

Pat Long 6 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone know if the local taverns recycle their bottles and cans?

skinny 6 years, 4 months ago

What happened to this being a free country?? We are losing our freedom to pick and choose here! First it was mandatory that we use the City of Lawrence to collect our trash now they want to mandate recycling. When is it ever going to end?

How about we go back to having the freedom to hire who we want to pick up our trash instead of the City trash monopoly and the outrageous trash rates they charge!

irvan moore 6 years, 4 months ago

i like the guys on the back of the trucks, they do a great job, they work hard and they take the time to wave to me. how about we have a task force that keeps them and gets rid of cromwell? it makes more sense.

BitterClinger 6 years, 4 months ago

The next thing you know they'll be goin' through your trash and recyclables and you'll be fined if you put a recyclable in the 'regular' trash or don't have enough recyclables. Just like San Francisco, a very 'progressive' town.

By the way, as all the recyclables are dumped into the same yellow lidded container and then dumped all together into a larger container how much does it cost to separate all these various recyclable items? (OMG the glass is touching the aluminum and the steel cans are rubbing up against the #1 plastic and the translucent milk containers are mingling with the 'tide' bottles!!!) Or do they just dump it in a separate part of the landfill and cover it up.

I'll be watching the City Commission Agenda so that on the evening they'll be 'discussing' this I can be there to help talk them out of it.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Deffenbaugh is not privately owned not by a long shot. It is owned by a Belgium group which is quite a few miles away.

For large apartment rental complexes how about Pay As You Throw instead of of each single family dwelling supporting waste galore. The same for all rental properties so damn many of which represent a "throw away country". Why should anybody support mammoth wasteful living?

Bring on Pay As You Throw with the main feature being this concept pays for itself thus reducing our monthly fees aka taxes.

IF I want to use a private local recycler that should be an option. There just might be some folks who want to keep their "local" person employed.

pace 6 years, 4 months ago

In the long run, it would be a saving. We need to change how we package and reuse materials in this country. Locally, I would suggest concentrating on paper/cardboards, metals/cans and not include glass. Some plastics have a good market but usually no plastic, as yet has a stable market. We can add materials as the markets improve. Drop offs for plastics and glass should be encouraged.

budwhysir 6 years, 4 months ago

glad to see our money can be used so wisely during a down economy. My hope is that this task force is used to model a task force to see if there is any indication as to what went wrong with the multi million dollar bridge to nowhere built at the end of the bypass. I see it has been over run and almost ruined by neglect.

budwhysir 6 years, 4 months ago

Might I also suggest a task force that could study the most effective way to collect your mail from the mailbox during winter weather when no one has been home to shovel sidewalks. I always find that holding onto my mail while pushing my large trash container to up the driveway is so hard when there is snow and ice on the ground. If only I had that extra few inches of ice removed from the sidewalk I would feel much more secure. I would also like to see a task force on how to park between two no parking signs without getting a ticket

onceajhawkalwaysajhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

There are plenty of capable helpers at the drop in shelter to do this service and the aluminum can be sold to help support the program..

ljwhirled 6 years, 4 months ago

Not so much. I've tried to hire these folks in the past.

They are either physically unable to work or too mentally ill to work.

Seriously, this is a dumb idea. Those folks need help from medical and social professionals. If they could work, most of them would.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

A guy was sitting outside with a sign looking for work, so I stopped and talked with him - I had some projects I thought he might be able to do.

He said Loring Henderson would be glad for him to find work.

So I called Loring, who I know, and asked about the guy - he wouldn't recommend him because he was an alcoholic, and unreliable because of that.

I was rather disappointed - I had hoped to help somebody out, and get some work done on our house, thinking that would be a win-win situation, and better than just giving money.

Are folks who drink and do drugs unable to work, or are they choosing that lifestyle?

And, what will help them make different choices? As far as I know, this guy wasn't in any sort of program to get help with his drinking.

George Lippencott 6 years, 4 months ago

Jafs at risk of violating the rules you might ask Loring if you can help down there. I did for a while. There are many reasons why people there can not function. Many are mentally ill, Substance abuse is significant. Intervention frequently does not work. Some avoid help. It is complex and solutions tend to be long term and time consumning

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

All using the same large containers would likely be easier on our trash collectors. Some have 5 or more separate containers which the neighborhood dogs,skunks and raccoons love.

Maybe the city will set forth some guidelines for which to allow trash consumers to buy their own containers.

Bob Forer 6 years, 4 months ago

"All using the same large containers would likely be easier on our trash collectors."

You need to add "who are lucky enough to retain their jobs under the new plan."

pizzapete 6 years, 4 months ago

The trash service ain't broke, why are these idjuts trying to fix it? I recycle my stuff already, now they want me to rent a special container to put it in? Not happenin'.

pizzapete 6 years, 4 months ago

The trash service ain't broke, why are these idjuts trying to fix it? I recycle my stuff already, now they want me to rent a special container to put it in? Not happenin'.

budwhysir 6 years, 4 months ago

If everyone would just quit cycling, then we would not have to worry about recycling. End of story, end of study. Lets get a grip people. A cycle is just a cycle unless we dont plan to re the we need to accept recycle as just another added cycle to the recycle and so on. This is the hard core plan, just recycle the cycle and the cycle will keep on giving

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Discovering ways to eliminate jobs is not healthy for economic growth nor social services.

nativeson 6 years, 4 months ago

The strategy proposed by the task force is simple. Mandate curbside recycling and eliminate the possibility of considering an type of outsourcing. Look at the composite of this task force that includes City employees and the primary liason with Hamm and tell me this is an unbias view of the world. We will pay more for less. That will be the result.

Chris Scafe 6 years, 4 months ago

Here's an interesting story about Omaha's experience with Deffenbaugh.

We should all read it before we jump into a long-term contract with them.

geoismeo 6 years, 4 months ago

This is the problem with electing business owners. They have plenty of money so whats another for to eight dollars to them. People are broke! They just don't get it. And who wants to store and deal with large containers in their yards. The trash service is fine the way it is.

bornon7 6 years, 4 months ago

I recycle using Defffenbaugh. Can someone please tell me how they separate all the different items I put in their trash can?!

Don Varnau 6 years, 4 months ago

Go to There's a video on the right side of the page which explains the sorting process.

ljwhirled 6 years, 4 months ago

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The trash collectors have not missed a scheduled day of service on 30 flipping years.

My trash always gets picked up as do the piles of misc. student junk that gets left on the curb every August 1.

Seriously, don't fix something that isn't broken. It works. Don't mess with it.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

Make it all local and put people back to work :

  1. Pay As You Throw - Keep it local The town of Malden, Mass. is receiving an additional $2.5 million annually to spend on jobs, programs and services and is reducing municipal solid waste (MSW) by 50 percent, thanks to a program known as pay-as-you-throw (PAYT).

  2. Let's eliminate you and me paying for rental/property managers wasteful tenants which is nothing more than corporate welfare. Who can afford the additional expense?

  3. Keep the entire recycling process local to keep locals working and STOP sending anymore money to Missouri. Shipping local dollars to other economies makes zero sense.

ljwhirled 6 years, 4 months ago

I repeat. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

There is nothing wrong with our trash service.

Recycling is available for those that want to pay for it.

This is Kansas, not San Francisco. Leave well enough alone.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

Our landfills will fill up, too. We do not charge enough for some of the trash pickup services like apartment cleanup and appliance pickup. We cannot afford to offer services fo free.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 4 months ago

P.S. Trash is trash. If trash is not recycled, it still needs to be picked up.

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