Archive for Monday, February 14, 2011

City of Lawrence asked to get into the glass recycling business

February 14, 2011


On the street

Do you recycle?

No, because there’s no place that take glass in Lawrence.

More responses

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.


taiwantea 7 years, 2 months ago

Big thanks to the city commissioners and Mr. Cromwell!

greenquarter 7 years, 2 months ago

Or you could use Sunflower Curbside Recycling .... $12/month for every other week pickup, and Chris takes absolutely everything--glass, injection molded plastic, batteries, etc. And personal service to boot. Support a local business!

lawrencekansan 7 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for your feedback. I've been considering using a local recycling service (rather than trekking to Wal-Mart), but wasn't sure which one to use.

d_prowess 7 years, 2 months ago

I only pay about $7 a month for Home Recycling Service ( They only come once a month, but that is perfect for my household. They take pretty much everything.

gudpoynt 7 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. I've been very satisfied with Sunflower Curbside.

allamerican4ever 7 years, 2 months ago

isnt that why defenbaugh is here tearing up streets. recycle city com. and public works we all know theyre a group of competant people. lol oh lmoa

kawrivercrow 7 years, 2 months ago

They would be smart to first go after the business areas with a dense glass-based waste stream like bars and restaurants. In KC there are dozens of boxcar-sized purple RIPPLE dumpsters for public access.. They are usually in parking lots of Berbiglia liquor stores.and there are also ones that target businesses like groups of bars. Both are very successful.

corey872 7 years, 2 months ago

Putting glass recycle bins at large grocery stores would certainly have merit - most households go grocery shopping several times a month, so it shouldn't be any big deal to take glass back to the store.

Would sure like to see considerations of curbside pick-up as well, The trucks are already driving the route, seems like it would be super cheap just to pick the glass up at that time.

Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

Considering the multi-hundred million dollar city budget, and assuming the city’s estimates are accurate, the savings is de minimis. The $30,000 capital outlay is a depreciable asset. To make the math easy, lets figure depreciation at one per cent a month (perhaps a little high), which translates to $300 per month. When that $300 is added to the $600 in monthly costs to empty the bins and take them to the bunker area , the total monthly costs are $900 against a estimated $2,300 in landfill savings, leaving a net savings of $1,400.00. When you're buying $500,000 GPS systems, a claimed $16,800 yearly savings is less than chump change.

But that's assuming the city's math works. Maybe its just me, but I find it highly improbable that the city can move 100 tons of glass from four strategically scattered bins to a central bunker for only $600.00 per month, That’s a lot of glass, and a lot of trips. Let’s put aside the cost of wear and tear on the city trucks. At twenty dollars per hour (an estimate which includes wages, insurance and other benefits, and payroll taxes paid by the employer), the city's $600 cost estimate (remember, we are not even considering fuel, maintenance, and depreciation on the high dollar vehicle involved) will pay for one worker 30 hours per month to collect and move 100 tons of glass from four scattered locations in Lawrence’s never ending sprawl to one central location (but it probably will not be a truly “central” location; my guess is somewhere in far East Lawrence near the city limits). That means one man and one truck would have to move 3.3 tons for each hour worked. Sounds a tad bit optimistic to me.

100 tons of glass in thirty man hours. I ain’t no rocket scientist, but to paraphrase the infamous Hedley Lamarr of “Blazing Saddles,” that’s a $hitload of glass.

Of course there's the argument that recycling is good for the environment. Theoretically, yes, but realistically, only in the context of a national recycling mandate, which is decades away. Without a national program, the efforts of Lawrence will impact the world environment no greater than a gnat pissing into the Pacific Ocean. Heck, we might have greater impact on the environment by hiring a low salaried professional tree hugger at 17Gs per annum to infiltrate the Sequoia National Forest and commandeer a 150 year old sequoia.


Bob Forer 7 years, 2 months ago

(continued here)

Yes, the environment is in danger. But if you want to do something about it, go after the multi-billion dollar multi-national oil and coal conglomerates, and the auto industry. Elect people instead of corporate politicians to state and federal government.

Dropping off a bag of glass which you sanctimoniously sorted after loading the evening’s meal dirty dishes into a high power dishwasher and before taxiing your young one via a high dollar, low mileage SUV to soccer practice, and then grabbing a $4.00 latte on the way home just doesn't cut it.

There is a profound difference between "liberals" and true progressives. Ultimately, the liberals and conservatives end up in the same camp--they just don't get it.

blindrabbit 7 years, 2 months ago

What is the economy of recycling glass: I've heard it costs about double to used recycled glass for new glass production compared to using raw materials. Does anyone (blogger) know the real issues.

Tyson Travis 7 years, 2 months ago

As I understand it, as opposed to recycling a renewable resource like paper to keep it out of landfills and save trees, or an economically rewarding resource like aluminum [which saves electricity over melting down new bauxite], recycling glass just helps keep space-consuming bottles out of landfills. There's no shortage of sand to make new glass, I'm glad to hear that they can recycle it into insulation rather than melting it down into new bottles. We should get used to medium-brown recycled glass bottles for beverages and foodstuffs, and only insist on new glass for housewares. What do you care if your beer, wine, or salsa comes in slightly-colored recycled glass?

evilpenguin 7 years, 2 months ago

I would also assume that there is some kind of government tax break for companies that use recycleable materials in their production. I'm just guessing here, it seems like a logical idea.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 2 months ago

Ripple Glass is sort of a subsidiary of Boulevard Brewing in KC. It was started because they felt they have an obligation to help recycle the glass that they put into the environment with their beer. And I believe they chose to use it to make insulation so that there would be a steady market, reasoning that there would always be a need for insulation.

blindrabbit 7 years, 2 months ago

Good for them; maybe a Free State Brewery connection needed!

Ripple=Ripple Wine Thunderbird: "What's the word Thunderbird, What's the price, forty twice"

ksriver2010 7 years, 2 months ago

The reality of glass recycling is that most glass that is deemed for recycling gets dumped at the landfills - it is too expensive and too "contaminated" (with wrappers, labels, and leftover contents) to be recycled.

But hey it makes you feel better to toss it in the bin at Wal-Mart South. Gives you a warm feeling. Too bad it doesn't pan out that way.

laika 7 years, 2 months ago

Ripple would be providing would be transport and preparation for recycling. It would take the glass from Lawrence to Kansas City and prepare it for recycling into fiberglass insulation at the Owens Corning plant in KC. Presumably there are not insubstantial costs involved in doing so. The city stands to save on landfill costs and provide a desired service for citizens.

More information:

Shane Garrett 7 years, 2 months ago

Fiberglass insulation, floating in the air we breath could be cause for concern.

Clark Coan 7 years, 2 months ago

Columbia, Missouri used to have a 5 cent deposit on bottles but the beverage industry finally got the voters to repeal it. It works in Iowa, why not here?

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