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.