Archive for Sunday, February 26, 2012

Area cities approach trash services differently

Lawrence City Commission to hear comments on task force’s report Tuesday

City of Lawrence sanitation trucks return from the county landfill and pass through the North Second and Locust St. intersection Monday, June 14, 2010.

City of Lawrence sanitation trucks return from the county landfill and pass through the North Second and Locust St. intersection Monday, June 14, 2010.

February 26, 2012


Trash — it’s everywhere.

But when it comes to how cities deal with the trash their residents produce, about the only thing for certain is that they all deal with it somehow.

Some cities require residents to use carts. Others still allow old-fashioned bags or cans. Some cities have trash departments run by the city. Others have a laissez-faire system where private haulers can come in and compete for your business. Some allow you to throw your glass clippings in the trash. Others require you to recycle yard waste.

On Tuesday, Lawrence city commissioners will dive into the world of trash. Commissioners will hold a study session with the city’s Solid Waste Task Force, and they are scheduled at their 6:35 p.m. meeting to take public comment on the task force’s final report.

Commissioners on Tuesday aren’t expected to make any final decisions on changes to the city’s system, but they will likely debate the subject for at least weeks to come.

With that in mind, the Journal-World gathered information about how other communities run their trash programs. We picked communities that were either close by, a university community, or, in the case of Emporia, because Lawrence’s director of public works oversaw the revamping of Emporia’s trash system more than a decade ago.

Here’s a look at the trash landscape, so to speak:


Type: City-owned-and-operated trash service

Rate: $14.94 per month for weekly residential trash service.

Curbside recycling: Not offered by the city. Private haulers offer various services.

Carts: Not mandated. Cans and bags are allowed.

Trash trucks: Most trash trucks operate with a three-person crew.

Yard waste: Weekly, curbside service offered in spring, winter and fall. Included in monthly base rate. Residents pay for the service regardless of whether they use it.


Pay attention here, as Lawrence leaders have been studying Olathe’s system for quite awhile.

Type: Trash and curbside recycling service owned and operated by the city.

Rate: $19.25 per month for once-a-week residential service.

Curbside recycling: Service provided once every two weeks. The service is included in the base rate, meaning residents pay for it, regardless of whether they use it.

Carts: Residents are required to use city-provided plastic carts for both trash and recycling. The carts are included in the base rate.

Excess trash: If residents can’t fit all their trash into the 95-gallon cart, the city will pick up a “reasonable” amount of bags for free.

Trash trucks: Most are one-person, fully-automated trucks. The driver operates a mechanical arm that reaches out and picks up the cart.

Yard waste: During spring, summer and fall, city operates weekly curbside yard waste pick-up. Service included in monthly, base rate.

Overland Park

Type: City has licensed four private companies that compete to provide trash service to residents. Residents can choose which company they choose to contract with.

Rate: Varies by company. For example: Deffenbaugh Industries, $24 per month for a 65-gallon cart, $26 for a 95-gallon cart; L&K; Services, $23 per month; Town and Country Disposal, $50.25 per quarter.

Curbside recycling: Weekly service offered by all companies. Base rates include curbside recycling.

Carts: Deffenbaugh requires their use, while L&K; and Town and Country don’t.

Excess trash: For those companies that require use of carts, extra bags can be set out for $1.25 per bag. Customers purchase a sticker that they attach to the bags.

Trucks: Deffenbaugh uses fully automated, one-person trucks. L&K; and Town and Country have crews of two people per truck.

Yard waste: Seasonal curbside service provided. Included in base rate.


Type: Shawnee County owns and operates the department. Provides trash service for the entire county.

Rate: $15.26 per month, which includes a 90-gallon container.

Curbside recycling: Not offered currently.

Carts: Mandated usage, with exceptions for the elderly or disabled who physically can’t roll the carts.

Excess trash: Up to 15 bags of yard waste or trash can be set out per week for no extra charge. Also, one piece of furniture or large bulk item.

Trash trucks: Three-person crews.

Yard waste: Not recycled currently.


Chuck Soules, the city’s public works director, oversaw a revamping of this system while he was the public works director in Emporia.

Type: Owned and operated by the city.

Rate: $14.84 per month, includes one 95-gallon cart.

Curbside recycling: Not currently offered.

Carts: Mandated use.

Excess trash: Will pick up excess trash if resident calls for an appointment. General fee is $14.84 for 12 additional bags.

Trash trucks: One person, fully automated.

Yard waste: Not recycled. Can be thrown away with trash but must fit in the cart or pay an extra fee. City accepts yard waste for free at its composting site if residents deliver it.


By far the lowest trash/recycling rate we found. Also the city provided great detail about the amount of money it receives for allowing a single, private company to collect all its trash. The city received $1.5 million for a 10-year exclusive contract. In addition, the city receives 8.5 percent of every monthly bill to compensate the city.

Type: The city contracts with Stutzman Refuse Disposal to collect all trash. The city provides the billing as part of its water and sewer bills.

Rate: $10.05 per month.

Curbside recycling: Once every other week. Service is included in base rate.

Carts: Required. 95-gallon cart provided.

Excess trash: $1 per additional bag. Sticker system.

Trucks: One-person, fully automated.

Yard waste: Service not offered.


Welcome to the land of trash competition.

Type: Multiple private haulers. According to the city’s website, it appears at least six companies offer trash service in Manhattan.

Rate: Varies by company. Found one company at $19.50 per month with no cart. Another at $20 per month with a cart. One hauler refused to publicize the service’s price.

Curbside recycling: Most appeared to not offer the service. One did offer twice-a-month curbside recycling for an extra $8 per month.

Carts: Varies by company. At least one company requires carts.

Excess trash: The one company that uses carts indicated it will pick up a reasonable amount of extra bags on an occasional basis.

Truck size: Company with carts uses one-person automated truck. At least one company without carts uses a one-person, non-automated truck. In other words, the driver gets out and empties the trash.

Yard waste: Not currently recycled.


If Lawrence goes to carts and automated trucks, it won’t be the first city in the county to do so.

Type: City contracts with a single provider, Weldon Enterprises, to collect all trash. City handles billing.

Rate: $14.25 per month.

Curbside recycling: Not included in base rate. Can add for $5 per month.

Carts: Required.

Trucks: One-person, fully automated.

Excess trash: Additional bags for $1 per bag. Sticker system.

Yard waste: Can set out separate in approved bags for no charge.

Baldwin City

Type: City contracts with Ottawa Sanitation Service to provide all trash service.

Rate: $11.50 per month.

Curbside recycling: Not offered by city currently.

Carts: Not required.

Trucks: Three-person crew

Yard waste: No curbside recycling service for yard waste.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

"Some allow you to throw your glass clippings in the trash."

Glass clippings is quite an interesting concept. I'm not familiar with them, are they somewhat like fingernail clippings, or are they more like shards of glass?

Please don't give me the mundane explanation that it was a typo, because I like the concept of glass clippings. I'm sure that there are some artists that could create beautiful pieces of art out of glass clippings.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

"Others have a laissez-faire system where private haulers can come in and compete for your business."

I used to live in (an unnamed community), where the laissez-faire system was carried one step further. In addition to the option of having a private hauler haul away your trash you had the option of leaving piles of it everywhere, as long as it was in your own yard.

I suppose you could think of it as yard art that expressed the property owner's individuality, but I have never appreciated the beauty of old broken down appliances rusting in the yard. Although to some extent, I do somewhat appreciate the beauty of tree limbs lying around.

Maybe that had something to do with my attitude about the community. When I drove down other streets I used to wonder what in the world I was thinking when I bought property there.

But I do remember why I bought property in that community. I did it because it was cheap, and I hadn't looked around much to carefully consider whether this is where I really wanted to live. Property was unbelievably cheap there. And while I lived there, it got even cheaper.

One of the very nice things about Lawrence is that no one is allowed to trash out the whole neighborhood by junking up their yard. I certainly hope that never changes.

deec 6 years, 2 months ago

Funny how the towns with private hauler competition (OP and Manhattan) are generally more expensive than the towns with government haulers. But I thought in magic free market land, prices are supposed to be ever so much cheaper...

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

Just for you, deec!

'This Magic Moment' (1960) - performed by The Drifters

giveitback 6 years, 2 months ago

What everyone seems to be missing here is that the City/County have thier own mechanics and repair budget. This includes fuel, tires, purchaseing new trucks etc. The city of Olathe is self insured. Lots of hidden cost here. It is a good system tho. And the fees do off set some of those cost. The most important thing to remember is that when a privately owned company takes over you pay what they tell you to pay. Then your over a barrel! Stay the course Lawrence. Keep the trash hauling businesses out of it.

irvan moore 6 years, 2 months ago

yep, one of the biggest mistakes the voters here have made for a long time, what kind of enviromentalist wants to fill the city with large plastic bins

Ragingbear 6 years, 2 months ago

Communal dumpsters. Put one or two per block, you could do the same with recycling bins. You might have to get off your butt and walk a few yards, but your cost would only be a few dollars a year and you might just lose a pound or two.

For those that think this is a silly or stupid idea, consider this: Apartment and housing complexes do it all the time.

notorious_agenda 6 years, 2 months ago

It's a progressive system don't allow it. Take it from someone who deals with that system weekly. First they say sure you can throw away your trash, and very soon after they say no yard waste, no extra bags without stickers (almost a dollar each), the cart must be in a certain position or they just leave it there with the trash in it. It's 2x the trucks until they stop collecting bags altogether; one for the carts, and one for any bags. If there is any question they just leave the trash it's no fun bringing the trash back into your garage for another week. After they have the sticker system in place they say gas prices went up and raise the base rate.

kuguardgrl13 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm not going to argue about whether we should have carts or no carts. I've lived in both and have seen both sides of it (Not to mention, I'm a student with a dumpster at my apartment).

As for curbside recycling, YES PLEASE!!!! It kills me every time I toss out a plastic bottle or a can because the closest recycling is campus (and I'm not hauling all of my recycling up the Hill). Sure, Dillions and other places around town have the drop-offs, but it's inconvenient. It's worth my time and energy to pay the extra money (if that's what it comes to) for Lawrence to have recycling. KU Recycling has placed bins all over campus for all of our empty Coke bottles and riffled-through UDKs. I think a city-wide recycling system would be well worth our while. Many of the students are used to having recycling in our hometowns, so we're already in the habit of doing so. We don't even have to use carts if people are so against them. Many cities provide bins. Some places take recycling every week with the trash, and others only take it every two weeks. Sure, some cities and companies will only take certain kinds of plastics and not all take cardboard or paper. However, technology is improving, and many are starting to take more items than they used to. Overall, any recycling system would be better than what we have now: nothing.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

If you don't mind paying, there are several private companies that offer recycling services - why aren't you using them?

peartree 6 years, 2 months ago

I want to know if mandated recycling will save the city money by reducing what must be dumped in a landfill. Can we make money selling our recyclables? I pay a recycling service now, but I'd like to see the numbers crunched.

Also, please if we do establish a new citywide service, pick it up every week. In a big family, the dang cart fills up in a week...even when I flatten every box.

I also would like to know if such a program would harm the jobs of the special populations individuals who work at the recycling center behind Walmart.

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