City of Lawrence asked to get into the glass recycling business

Lawrence City Hall leaders are in discussions with a Kansas City-based company to start a new glass recycling program for residents.

City commissioners at their meeting today will hear details of a proposal from Ripple Glass to add four new glass collections bins for residents to use around the city.

“I think it is a great idea,” said City Commissioner Aron Cromwell. “The easier we can make a recycling program, the more it will be used. That is guaranteed.”

Currently, the Wal-Mart Community Recycling Center and the 12th and Haskell Bargain Center accept glass for recycling, but Cromwell said he thinks more glass would be recycled if there were drop-off locations closer to people’s homes.

The city hasn’t yet determined where the new drop off locations would be.

“We would look at a map and try to distribute them throughout the city,” Cromwell said.

Added convenience, though, would come with some added costs. The city is estimating there would be about $30,000 in start-up costs, including four collection bins, and construction of an outdoor “bunker” that could serve as an area to store large amounts of glass until it could be transported to Ripple’s facility in Kansas City.

The key part of the deal is that Ripple would pay to transport the glass from Lawrence to Kansas City. Ripple operates a Kansas City plant that uses the glass for manufacturing fiberglass insulation.

The city would transport the glass from the four bins to the bunker area, which would hold up to 35 tons of glass. The city estimates it would have about $600 in monthly costs to empty the bins and take them to the bunker area.

But the city thinks the project can eventually pay for itself. The city estimates if 100 tons of glass per month could be recycled rather than put into a landfill, the city would save about $2,300 per month in landfill fees.

Commissioners are expected to consider the Ripple proposal as part of any changes that a city-appointed trash task force may recommend this spring.