Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Curbside recycling deal in the works

February 13, 2013


Lawrence city commissioners are ready to strike a deal to bring a citywide curbside recycling service to Lawrence — and a more convenient way for residents to get rid of all those empty glass bottles.

On Tuesday, commissioners unanimously agreed to begin negotiating with Perry-based Hamm Companies on a deal that would allow the company to build a multimillion-dollar recycling processing facility that would serve a new city-run curbside recycling service.

Based on proposals received from Hamm, the city expects the new program to add about $2.80 to $3 per month for every-other-week service, which will include glass as part of the curbside recycling service.

“We have such a reputation in Lawrence of being such a progressive community, but when people hear we don’t have a universal curbside recycling program, they are amazed by that,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said.

Lawrence residents will have to wait a bit longer for curbside service, assuming

negotiations progress with Hamm. State law requires the city to wait 18 months before starting a service in order to give private haulers in the area time to adjust.

As proposed, the citywide service would be a mandatory pay but voluntary participation program. That means all residential customers in the city would have the recycling fee added to their monthly bills, regardless of whether they choose to use the service.

The proposal also calls for city sanitation crews to pick up the curbside recycling, while Hamm Companies will handle the processing of the materials.

The city received proposals from two other companies — Kansas City’s Deffenbaugh Industries and Topeka’s Waste Management — that would have had private crews collect the recycling and process the materials.

Both companies offered proposals that potentially could have produced lower monthly rates than Hamm, but city commissioners said they liked the idea of Hamm building a new processing center on a site just outside of North Lawrence near the Douglas-Leavenworth County line.

The facility is expected to employ 15 to 20 people.

“Adding jobs in this town is a very important factor,” City Commissioner Hugh Carter said.

Deffenbaugh Industries currently operates a large curbside recycling service in the city. Deffenbaugh officials made a proposal on Tuesday to offer the city a lower rate to begin accepting not only its recycling but also its trash, which would be dumped at the company’s Kansas City, Kan. landfill.

Currently, the city uses Hamm Companies’ landfill in Jefferson County. Deffenbaugh proposed building a transfer station in Lawrence where city crews could deliver the trash and Deffenbaugh crews would transport it to the Kansas City landfill.

Deffenbaugh officials estimated the new dumping arrangement could save the city $250,000 to $500,000 per year in fuel, maintenance and tipping fees. City officials, however, said they hadn’t fully analyzed the proposal and it received little discussion from commissioners on Tuesday.

Negotiations with Hamm are expected to occur over the next several weeks. Commissioners will have to approve any final contracts.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

Another plan to put local business people out of business...those who pay taxes, and put it in the hands of the bureaucrats who only take tax money from the system...and we wonder why we don't have any money.

Mike Edson 5 years, 2 months ago

They should provide an opt out for those who do not want to participate.

irvan moore 5 years, 2 months ago

how many jobs will be lost at other recycling businesses to gain the 15 to 20 new jobs

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

“We have such a reputation in Lawrence of being such a progressive community, but when people hear we don’t have a universal curbside recycling program, they are amazed by that,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said."

Yep among other things.

Chad are we going to be allowed to opt out and keep our local private choices?

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 2 months ago

I suppose anything is possible, but there hasn't been much discussion of allowing that to happen at this point. Thanks, Chad

alfie 5 years, 2 months ago

Are we going to have a choice how big of can we will need for different households?

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 2 months ago

The city hasn't finalized any of those details, but the previous conversation has focused on providing 96 gallon carts for households, since the recycling only will be picked up once every two week. But the city will have several months to really create the details of the program. Thanks, Chad

skinny 5 years, 2 months ago

I will be the first to file a class action lawsuit!! This is a free country and I do have choices!! I will not pay for something I will not use!

skull 5 years, 2 months ago

Yeah...good luck with that. What kind of idiot doesn't recycle anyways. You're probably one of those people that is deathly afraid of the debt crisis we're leaving our children, but blind to the environmental crisis we already are experiencing.

skull 5 years, 2 months ago

Sizeable carbon footprint like running five large gas guzzling trucks around town instead of one, like mining/pumping more raw materials so we can just throw them away instead of reusing them? What's the carbon footprint on that?

Patricia Davis 5 years, 2 months ago

I have no children in school. Why do I have to pay for that? I'm ging to sue so I can opt out. Sam for the T and the library. Yes, sirree. I'm only to go pay for ME!!!!!!!!!!

mdlund0 5 years, 2 months ago

Well why don't you just choose to move somewhere where you don't feel your rights are being trampled on? We all pay for things we don't directly use, but just because we don't use those things doesn't mean they don't impact our lives in a positive way. I pay for schools, yet I do not have children and I am better off for having a society filled with (at least partially) educated people. I pay for the police, the fire department, and public hospitals, yet I have never once called upon them... and I still benefit from having a secure society with measures in place to help me, my neighbors, and you if necessary. I help pay for all the roads, yet I do not drive on all of them... I still benefit from the increased economic activity that they enable. In this program, we all will benefit because fewer natural resources will be required to produce the goods we use and less space will be consumed by the waste we dispose of.

Sue McDaniel 5 years, 2 months ago

AND the government once again decides for us what we need and forces us to pay for it. What is that called.......

mdlund0 5 years, 2 months ago

When it's a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? Hmm... probably not what you're trying to suggest.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

We recycle a lot, and I'd be glad to pay $3/month for the convenience of curbside pickup.

I do wonder about a few things though - 15-20 jobs at the new facility doesn't take into account jobs lost if folks stop using private services, or even Wal-Mart's drop off center.

What's the environmental cost of building a new processing center?

And, given the terribly low gas mileage of city trash trucks, how much will that cut into the environmental benefits of recycling?

I would very much like to see a comprehensive analysis of these things, and a conclusion as to the net environmental gain of curbside recycling, if there is one.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Could you please give me your best guess as to how much a comprehensive analysis such as you want would cost, how long it would take, who would conduct the analysis and where that money would come from?

skull 5 years, 2 months ago kidding. And why do a study anyways? Here in Kansas, if we don't like the results, we just ignore them or criticize the study.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

No idea on cost.

But without such a study, how can we know whether or not this is a good idea, environmentally speaking?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

What will a study be looking at? They will be looking at costs vs. benefits, right. Costs would certainly include things like the cost of gas. They will project six months into the future and take their best guess as to what that price will be. They'll do it for five years hence. They'll make a projection as to what might happen to gas costs if there is a flare up of hostilities in the Mideast or if fracking is expanded or outlawed. They'll look at labor costs, factoring in if Obama's call for an increased minimum wage would cost this program more. What if only half the wage increase happens? More projections. Would any of these national policies increase or decrease inflation? Return us to a recession or slow the current recovery? More projections. Then of course, the study might cost $100,000 and produce a report that if we move forward, the city would save $50,000. Wouldn't that be ironic. Almost as ironic as someone who frequently says we should not use projections because they are inherently unreliable now calling for a comprehensive study, which is nothing more than gathering current data and projecting that information into the future.

All that said, I like your idea of a comprehensive study, I not being one who has been overly critical of getting the best information possible and then taking a chance with that.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm talking about environmental cost/benefit analysis, not financial.

And, I've never said we shouldn't ever use projections - I've said we shouldn't rely on overly optimistic ones to justify giving tax breaks, etc. to developers.

In this case, since I'm concerned about the environment, I'd like to know whether or not curbside recycling will be a net gain for it. So, actually, this fits right in with my generally cautious philosophy - I'm cautioning those that are gung ho about the program to consider the environmental costs of it, and weigh those against the possible benefits.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, you did mention job gains for some compared to job losses to others. Maybe you aren't specifically interested in that, but then, why mention it? You also mentioned how little miles per gallon a truck gets, that feeds right in to how much gas it will use. We might like to know how much gas will cost.

Bottom line though is that what you call inherently unreliable projections I call acting on the best information available, if it's truly an independent and competent analysis. That is something I've always called for.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

My main message is one of caution when dealing with projections - I've been consistent about that for as long as we've been having this discussion. The city says "Wow, we'll create 10-15 jobs" but fails to mention the folks that may be put out of work by this. This sort of presentation is common with all of these kinds of projects - people tout the benefits, but fail to mention the costs, or the risks.

There are of course potential cost concerns on a financial level, but my comments are about environmental costs, so when I mention the lousy gas mileage trash trucks get, it's to point out an environmental cost of this idea.

Do you have any examples of truly independent and competent studies that have been done on various projects the city has considered over the years?

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

Better to use one truck getting 5 mpg than the hundreds of vehicles a day traveling to a dropoff point, or several small trucks that must each cover the entire city for private pickup. There is economy in scale.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe, maybe not.

We'd have to do some math there, and it would make a difference if people combined their trip to Wal-Mart with other things they were doing in that area already.

Also, building the collection/processing center will have an environmental cost as well.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Another cost to consider is the cost of all of the new plastic carts.

We just use paper bags from the grocery store to sort, and then recycle those as well.

Enlightenment 5 years, 2 months ago

The Wal-mart recycling center should remain open and no jobs lost if curbside service is provided in the city. The Wal-mart recycling center will continue to offer county residents outside the city limits a location to bring their recyclables.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

That's a thought.

But, if city residents don't use it anymore, they probably won't need as many employees, since the amount of recycling collected will be a lot less, don't you think?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

One of the indicators that a community is in financial trouble is when they start to raise user fees. Over the past couple few years this has been happening in various forms. When the city duped the taxpayers into taking the funding from the property tax for the empT and putting it to a passing vote, moving it to a sales tax, the windfall was upwards of 4 million for the city. At the same time, Corless said he was going to give the city employees a raise but did not know where the funding was coming from. Next we see the money grab for the 10 million allocated for the clean up of the Farmland site. I would guess the city was much more interested in securing the money than the clean up of the site. I would like to know what the status is of the money secured and the money spent. We have just been forced to use polycarts by the city, which a better business decision would have been to put the trash service in town up for bids. A bid process would generate annual revenue with very little expenses. Now we have this push for recycling, which the end game is to add an additional revenue stream to the cities coffers. Next up is the costs for a new sewage treatment plant.

When someone urinates down your back and tells you its raining, maybe you should check out where the water is coming from.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

Putting trash service up for bid would have left us with an inferior service for more money. Picking up trash has a fixed cost, so to make a profit on it requires paying the workers less, using fewer workers, picking up less often, charging more, or all of the above. And it would have been bid on by one of the national providers, so our money would have left the city, enriching others at our expense.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

You know this for sure? The private sector puts tax dollars into the tax base. The City only takes tax dollars from us. It is a no brainer for those who understand how economies work.

bad_dog 5 years, 2 months ago

Last I checked, tax dollars the city takes in are also paying city employee salaries, same as if private employers perform the work, same taxes withheld from those paychecks.

parrothead8 5 years, 2 months ago

You do know that tax dollars a city takes in aren't just stuffed into a mattress, right?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

There are other types of taxes corporate taxes which the city does not have to pay. If you removed this service from the city they could dump all the assets required to run the service to include the repair parts bins. Put it out for bids and have a HUGE positive swing in cash flow.

no_thanks 5 years, 1 month ago

+1 The focus continues to be on the salaries of the City employees, and the impact on the local economy. What about the impact of increasing the disposable income on the 24,000 households in Lawrence? Why is it Deffenbaugh can pick up my one bin of recyclables every week for $17/quarter, but the City charges me roughly $20/month o pick up on bin of trash? The savings of $120/year multiplied by the number of households would be nearly $3MM in additional income that could be spent in the local economy. This combined with the windfall from selling the solid waste business would be a huge economic benefit for the City.

Tim Bateman 5 years, 2 months ago

How can the city commission not have explored a way to save $250K-$500K per year. That is a lot of money.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 2 months ago

Yet another instance of the shadowy lizard people trying to get easy access to more of our personal information so they can use it against us in the coming Showdown. Break your bottles and bury them in the yard and cover them with your motor oil. Take back your individuality and privacy! (You should also get rid of Windows 8 because it is keeping tabs on you.) No New World Order...or timed traffic lights on Kentucky Street!

buffalo63 5 years, 2 months ago

Right now we have the Deffenbaugh container (65 gal?) that we only fill every two weeks at most and takes up the only space we have in the garage. We already have a trash container that we only fill every two weeks (unless the grandkids visit). We purchased two yard waste containers that we can fill 2 or 3 times a week in the fall and now we are to get a 95 gal recycle container!? Might have to leave it at the curb on the storm drain flat surface as that will be the only/best storage space left!

alfie 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with you my Deffenbaugh can empties 1 time a month and it is only half full

parrothead8 5 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. Our Deffenbaugh can, at 65 gallons, is the largest we can fit in our garage. We already had to ask the city to give us their smallest possible trash cart so we could fit it in the garage. If they make us replace our 65-gallon Deffenbaugh container with a 95-gallon city container, we won't have anywhere to put the new one. I don't mind doing my civic duty to reduce waste, but the city needs to work with us on this.

Centerville 5 years, 2 months ago

It's the Los Angeles syndrome: rather than prioritize basic infrastructure needs, it has a terminal case of mission creep - keeps getting involved in more and more trivial, expensive and low-benefit projects. Nothing says "I Care!!" like a blue dumpster on your curb.

mac 5 years, 2 months ago


Please include ALL plastic numbers that Diffenbaugh already collects and send out the new bins post haste. This is 15 years late, so let's get this started already.

beezee 5 years, 2 months ago

So what next-- a Lawrence Carbon Tax!?!?!

We have a Commission that is more concerned with blowing [OUR] money on idiotic frills and "for show" than on simply running the City in a responsible and cost effective manner.

Lawrence has PLENTY of recycling opportunities for the many of us interested in using them. Why should we all pay MORE (a lot more in the long run) to have the City choreograph it when real NEEDS like the water and sewer fixes in the same newspaper plainly are fundamental services?!

The bunch of clowns running the Commission seem largely motivated by fluff and image (at least THEIR concept of image). So we get crap like this, a fraudulent Rec Center (more of a WRECK Center) and spurious efforts to "create" a destination for retirees. The main thing here that seems to get recycled is shopworn ideas.

d_prowess 5 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for making sure the proposal included glass!!

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

Yeah!!! This is the plan I was hoping for.

pace 5 years, 2 months ago

I am thrilled with the choice of Hamm's. Worked with Deffenbaugh several times over decades, each time they begun with deals too good to be true, old bait and switch EVERY time. I would loath losing our city sanitation service to those goons. there isn't a home or apartment in this town who wouldn't benefit from curbside collection of recyclables. It is good long range economic activity.

Elizabeth Halsey 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm still concerned about the every other week plan. As it is, I fill my Deffenbaugh container full (or more) on a weekly basis. This is without glass. How is this supposed to work every other week? We can do a better job of breaking down some boxes, but I don't see how a similar size can could be sufficient for two weeks at a time when recycling all available materials - especially for a larger family. And, like others have commented....half the service but the same or more cost to me. I guess I'm glad we can't make a change for 18 months, but the time will come.

seagull 5 years, 2 months ago

I have a 65 gallon Deffenbaugh container that I fill 2/3 full every week. So, with the proposed plan, we get a huge 95 gallon cart that we are supposed to store where? A 65 gallon container fits in a garage but is not big enough for 2 weeks' worth of recycling materials--especially if glass is included. This all sounds like a really dumb plan. Did the City bother to ask customers what they think? Sounds like an inside deal to me.

Glo 5 years, 2 months ago

The Hamm's proposal uses city workers to pick up and haul recycleables. The other companies use their own employess, and are less expensive. Who pays the city employees? They surely won't be expected to do all that extra for no pay. Does that extra pay come from Hamms, or is it one more way the Hamms proposal will cost more.

Bailey Perkins 5 years, 2 months ago

I understand the incentive behind recycling and appreciate the fact you are attempting to implement an involuntarily mandatory system within the city, but not fix the problems we already experience (in the ways of trash).

On days like today, I enjoy taking hourly strolls throughout the city (why I choose to do that instead of work – since I know someone will point that out – is a matter I’m trying to fix) anyway, during today’s walk I noticed hoards of trash scattered throughout public parks, city roads, outside hotels and other businesses. Why not send city officials/volunteers to clean up the mess we already have instead of forcing everyone to pay for a service they aren’t interested in (or at least clearly do not use)?

Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Since the city is planning on buying out the local recycling companies, are they planning on proving the funding the schools lose due to the city's mandatory recycling program? Are they also planning on providing a decent severance check to the CLO folks who will be let go from the Walmart recycling center due to lack of use?

If you are going to pay people off to put through your plan, you should pay off all the people who are going to be financially hurt by your mandatory program.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

Would all of you be complaining as loudly if it were a municipal water system being put in to replace wagon-delivered water? How about sanitary sewer to replace septic tanks?

Trash and recycling collection should be run as a utility with a single service provider to eliminate duplication of effort.

no_thanks 5 years, 1 month ago

No. There are plenty of competing firms offering services for handling solid waste. The same does not exist for water treatment. The City should handle infrastructure, safety (police, fire, water, etc...), and enforce regulations. They should not doe out money to social services (they choose winners and losers based on Commissioner preferences), or those services that can be handled more efficiently by the private sector.

no_thanks 5 years, 1 month ago

You do know that Hamn is owned by Summitt Capital, and thus, the profits will be exported. I am a fan of Hamm and their operations, which are impressive, but support te decision for reasons other than dollars staying local. Hamm as employees that live in Jefferson County, Shawnee County, and Leavenworth, as well as Douglas.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

Now you don't have a choice, but once upon a time, you contracted with private companies for those services or did without. When municipalities got into the utility business, it put privateers out of work. This is no different.

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