The drumbeat for a larger — perhaps mandatory — curbside recycling program in Lawrence grew a bit louder Wednesday.
At a meeting hosted by the city’s Solid Waste Task Force, several members of the public asked the city-appointed group to consider ways to get residents to recycle in much greater quantities.
Even one of the owners of the six privately-owned curbside recycling companies in the city said he thought the city ultimately should provide curbside recycling services.
“If you have never seen someone shoot themselves in the foot, this is your opportunity,” Chris Scafe, owner of Sunflower Curbside Recycling told the group.
Scafe said the current system of where multiple private haulers provide service is inefficient because it is difficult for any one hauler to get enough density to cost-effectively pick up the recycled goods. He estimated that many of his customers were spaced about a half-mile apart.
“The inefficiency of the way we are doing it right now is costing us money,” Scafe said.
The Wednesday evening “public input session” attracted about 30 people but fewer than 10 speakers. A majority of them spoke about recycling issues.
Mayor Aron Cromwell said the task force will spend a lot of time on studying possible curbside recycling options, including the idea that all city residents must be required to pay for curbside recycling and would be provided with a special bin to collect material for recycling.
“One of the themes that keeps coming up is communities that are most successful with recycling have everybody do it,” Cromwell said. “Everybody would have two containers and you would have the choice of throwing that milk jug in the trash bin or the recycle bin. Most people will throw it in the recycle bin, especially if they know that they’re going to pay a higher fee if their trash bin is full.”
The issue of privatizing the city’s trash service also got some discussion. Jim Mullins, a field representative with Americans for Prosperity, urged the task force to give an honest appraisal of privatization.
“We need to build a business case to determine what is the best option for the citizens of Lawrence,” Mullins said.
The task force hopes to make its recommendations to the City Commission this fall. Commissioners will make any final decisions on whether to change the city’s trash service, which has been facing higher operating costs in recent years.