City Hall

City Hall

City gives more thought to whether glass ought to be included in proposed curbside recycling program

January 22, 2013


And you thought the hardest part about citywide, curbside recycling was going to be remembering what day to kick everything to the curb.

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday began to find out they have a whole host of tough questions to answer before creating the new service.

Should the city service accept glass? Should the city give preference to a local contractor? What should the city do to compensate several mom-and-pop recycling companies that likely will be put out of business?

But commissioners seemed to find the answer to the one question that has hovered over the issue the longest: Is it affordable?

“We’re at a really exciting point here,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said. “How we structure this system or exactly where the materials go, we don’t know yet, but it appears clear that for around $2 a month, we have an opportunity to have curbside recycling in this community. That is really amazing.”

Commissioners at their weekly meeting did not make any final decisions about the curbside recycling program. But they did receive a staff recommendation that calls for curbside recycling service to be provided on an every-other-week basis, and that households be equipped with a 96-gallon cart to handle their recycling. The cart would be in addition to the standard 65-gallon trash cart the city provided to most households recently.

City staff members said they also want to strongly consider changing the days some households currently set out their trash, which in the future also would be the day they set out their recycling.

Currently, the city collects residential trash Tuesday through Thursday. Under the new system, the city is contemplating picking up residential trash and recycling Tuesday through Friday.

There are several details of a potential program that remain uncertain, though. Whether the curbside service would take glass bottles is one of the bigger questions.

The city received proposals from three companies that would provide recycling processing services: Waste Management, which has a plant in Topeka; Deffenbaugh Industries, which has a plant in Kansas City, Kan.; and Hamm Inc., which is proposing to build a plant just outside of North Lawrence near Highway 24/40 and Kansas Highway 32.

Of the three, only Waste Management’s proposal currently would allow for glass collection. But Hamm officials said they easily could design the new plant to accept glass, if that is deemed a priority by the commission.

Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to allow all three companies to submit new proposals that explain how they would handle glass in the community.

“If glass can’t work as part of our proposal, I’m not going to force it,” Mayor Bob Schumm said. “But if it can work, I want to see it happen.”

The recycling industry has been split on whether co-mingling glass with other recyclable materials damages the re-sale value of the other materials.

Commissioners also were asked on Tuesday to think about the value of having a recycling processing facility right outside of the city limits.

Charlie Sedlock, director of waste services for Hamm, said the company is prepared to spend “several million dollars” to convert the former Lacy Steel building just outside of North Lawrence into a state-of-the-art recycling processing center.

He estimated the center would employ 15 to 20 people and would have room to take on other recycling programs in the future, such as electronic equipment, building materials and perhaps even food waste.

Commissioners also briefly discussed what — if anything — the city should do to compensate about five mom-and-pop curbside recycling companies that likely would be put out of business if the city starts a citywide service.

Commissioners directed staff members to begin preparing some ideas on how the city feasibly could buy out those businesses.

As proposed, every household in the city would be required to pay for the city’s service, whether they use the service or not. The extra amount, which city officials are now estimating to be somewhere between $2 and $3 per month, would be added on to the customer’s monthly city utility bill.

The city is expected to get updated proposals from the companies in the next couple of weeks.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 5 months ago

Wonder when the city will start telling us which brand of toilet paper we have to use?

Keith 5 years, 5 months ago

Given your sour attitude I'd say you're already using 80 grit.

guppypunkhead 5 years, 5 months ago

Lots of glass goes to the landfill in this town. If recycling it is an option- why not?

jj14 5 years, 5 months ago

I wondered the same thing, but I think its because of the safety of the workers - they have to go through all the stuff by hand and sort it.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 5 months ago

The debate in the industry is whether having glass in the recycling stream ends up contaminating the other materials — think paper in particular — that are being recycled. Small glass particles may get into the recycled paper, which creates a problem for the paper mills that are using the recycled paper to make new paper. At least that is how it was explained to me recently. But, it was clear last night that there is a debate in the recycling industry about how much of an issue contamination is. Waste Management says it has plenty of buyers for its recycled materials, and Waste Management accepts glass. Deffenbaugh does not. Hamm has said it is confident it can create a system with glass that will work. Thanks, Chad

gatekeeper 5 years, 5 months ago

Defenbaugh does sort by hand. Had some temps at my work that had just been out there doing that. Said it was a terrible job.

tir 5 years, 5 months ago

Deffenbaugh has this huge list of things they will not accept which really should be recyclable. Among other things, they will not take egg cartons, foil, plastic bags, shredded paper, medicine or vitamin bottles, and construction paper. It's all listed on their website here:

If I have to pay the city every month for recycling pickups I would like a recycler that accepts the widest range of recyclables, so I don't have to make special trips to recycle stuff like egg cartons and foil.

jj14 5 years, 5 months ago

Microwave Trays is the one that gets me! I have no idea why they have them on their "do not accept" list. I rinse them well and throw them in there anyways, I wonder if the reason they don't want them is for the people who do not rinse them out or what?

gatekeeper 5 years, 5 months ago

That's exactly why they refuse food trays.

Hooligan_016 5 years, 5 months ago

Are you sure they don't mean styrofoam egg cartons? What's slightly better about Deffenbaugh (as compared to the Wal-Mart dropoff) is at least they take a much wider array of plastics.

tir 5 years, 5 months ago

They don't specify whether they mean paper or foam egg cartons. But both types should be recyclable.

gatekeeper 5 years, 5 months ago

They mean the foam ones. Paper and marked plastic ones are fine.

jj14 5 years, 5 months ago

I started recycling about a year ago through Deffenbaugh - I was SHOCKED at how much of my "trash" was recyclable. From my very first week I started recycling, I could not believe how much we were throwing away. What used to be 1 large city 65 Gallon Can (plus sometimes an overflow trash can of my own) of regular trash, is now down to "1 sometimes 2 KITCHEN BAGS" in my City trash container. This is a family of 3. I estimate I now have 80-90% LESS TRASH than before I started recycling. The only problem I have with recycling, is how much water I may or may not be wasting when I wash out the containers. I might be wrong but sometimes I wonder if I'm using more resources than are saved, by using hot water to rinse out some of the containers.

buffalo63 5 years, 5 months ago

We put food containers in the dishwasher so it makes better use of the water. Also, as a retired couple we have trouble filling the 65 gal container every two weeks and we recycle everything allowed. Take the glass and plastic bags elsewhere. The 65 gal recycle container just fits into the garage space, but a 95 gal one would have to be outside with the City trash container.

tir 5 years, 5 months ago

I wash recyclable food containers, even the cans, when I do the dishes. It doesn't really use any more water to do that. Plus, since I have these things sitting around in my basement for awhile until I take them off to recycle, I don't want any food particles left in them to attract bugs. I know that probably sounds obsessive, but it's really practical.

kernal 5 years, 5 months ago

Not obsessive at all ,tir. Stale beer left overnight attracts cockroaches and food left in cans and bottles will also attract mice and ants. I wash my containers for recycling after I finish the pots and pans.

Topple 5 years, 5 months ago

96 gallons? I can't see my household filling a container that large in a month, much less every two weeks. The city needs to offer more options for container sizes than just 96 gallons if they're going to make this mandatory. I am all for this recycling program, but I think we need more options.

jj14 5 years, 5 months ago

My family of 3 almost fills the 65 gallon recycle container WEEKLY.

gatekeeper 5 years, 5 months ago

The key thing to remember is reduce and reuse, then recycle. My family of 3 can barely fill it in 2 weeks and that's with us not even breaking down chipboard. Make a point of trying to purchase items that have less packaging and reuse plastic packaging until it wears out. Lots less to throw in that bin.

Chris Phillips 5 years, 5 months ago

We are currently only recycling newspaper, aluminum cans, milk jugs and plastic bottles. I take them to the Wal-Mart recycling about once a month and easily fill 5 13-gallon trash cans. Granted, this could be reduced significantly with a healthier diet (less pop), but adding to this a larger list of recyclables will easily fill a 96 gallon cart in 2 weeks. As long as they will provide the cart to hold it all and I don't have to sort any more...I can't wait!

pace 5 years, 5 months ago

I love to see city wide curbside getting closer. I do not think glass is a good product to add, it has high collection costs an a very unstable market. I do appreciate the Ripple drop offs.

gatekeeper 5 years, 5 months ago

Those that are taking aluminum to Walmart or throwing it in your bins - please take them to the animal shelter. They use the funds to help fix critters. You get to recycle and help cut back on the unwanted pet population.

rlmtyco 5 years, 5 months ago

Yep thats exactly where i take all my beer cans to. I tell my wife I am drinking for a good cause each time I go out to grab another beer out of the garage. I had never recycled before until I found out that they used them at the Humane Society.

Topple 5 years, 5 months ago

It just seems to me that not every household generates equal amounts of recyclable materials, just as not every household generates the same amount of garbage. This is why they offer different sized trash cans. Why not offer the same for recycling?

Centerville 5 years, 5 months ago

ljreader: you're being too sensible. We need a City Commission that will spend hours/days/weeks months agonizing about glass recycling. When anyone who wants to recycle it (or anything else for that matter) can already do so. Most of it for free.

Topple 5 years, 5 months ago

More people would recycle if it took the same effort as throwing away garbage. A lot of people don't care enough to make special trips across town to drop off recycling. This is a good way to get everyone on board.

Katara 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't make special trips to drop off recycling. If I am going to run errands then I include it in that errand run. It is not difficult. I don't want curbside recycling. I have no use for it. If others want it, let them sign up for it. There are plenty of local businesses who will be happy to sign them up. It does not need to be mandatory.

RDE87 5 years, 5 months ago

I hope all the bars around Lawrence will start recycling their glass bottles if the city does end up accepting glass. Throwing all those bottles away is so wasteful!

Katara 5 years, 5 months ago

It is bad enough that my rates keep going up but now I will be forced to pay for a service that I don't use.

There is a much easier way for the city to raise revenue and keep the service voluntary. The city simply becomes a third party biller for recycling companies. Many businesses get revenue from billing contracts with other companies who either don't want to take on billing issues or don't have the resources to do so.

The city can maintain a list of preferred providers on the utility portion of their website. Qualifications to be a preferred provider can be good customer service, fair employment practices and a billing contract with the city so that the provider can tack their charge onto the city's water/trash/sewer bill.

People can pick whichever company they wish to handle their recycling and those who chose not to have curbside recycling can continue with what they are currently doing.

The city would handle any billing questions or service issue as part of the contract.

gatekeeper 5 years, 5 months ago

Start using the service and help reduce the amount of recyclable materials ending up in the landfill.

In OP they now require you to recycle. At first my elderly mother wasn't happy about that. Now she is so shocked at what little trash she has and that it hasn't been an inconvenience.

You're going to throw this recyclable material in a bin no matter what, so might as well put it in the recycling bin.

Katara 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't need curbside recycling. I prefer to take my recycling to places that use it for money. The schools have recycling bins and they get monies for the recyclables in it. Why should I pay the city money to deprive the schools from some money?

The Walmart recycle center employs folks from CLO. Why should I pay the city money to deprive those folks jobs?

jafs 5 years, 5 months ago

Do you use the yard waste collection service, and if not, do you mind paying for it?

It works the same way - we're all paying for it, and some use it a lot, others not at all, and some in between.

I like your idea about third party billing, but I'm not sure the city would make much money on it, if it's optional for the recycling companies - why would they do that when they're running their own business fine right now? They'd have to pay the city to do their billing.

Katara 5 years, 4 months ago

I don't think you quite understand the difference. Yard waste program is included in the trash price. You are not charged it on top of the trash service.

The curbside recycling is a separate charge and is charged on top of trash service. It is not included and is separate from the trash service. Yard waste is not.

Third party billing works for many companies. It makes enough revenue that some exist solely as a billing company for businesses that either don't have the resources to do it themselves or simply don't want to.

Under the assumption that the recycling companies will be greatly expanding their customer base (made so much more easier since the city would have them listed as a preferred provider and handle billing for them), it provides a great incentive for them to do it.

George_Braziller 5 years, 4 months ago

Rather than curbside recycling has the city considered having multiple recycling locations around town? Something like a smaller version of the Ripple Glass trailers. Locate one in a corner of a parking lot at each of the parks and they'd be pretty evenly distributed around town.

cummingshawk 5 years, 4 months ago

When, not if but when, the city awards the recycling contract, will they specify that no fuel surcharges will be added/allowed for the life of that contract?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.