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

January 22, 2013

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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.

Comments

cummingshawk 1 year, 2 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?

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George_Braziller 1 year, 2 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.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 2 months ago

I wonder if Chad can get a straight story on how much the downtown merchants pay for trash hauling and how much more they will pay for the recycling fee? And who from the city is going to monitor the trash bins and the recycle bins?

Denning vs. City of Elkhart

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thuja 1 year, 2 months ago

Nature recycles everything.

In Nature, trash is food.

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toe 1 year, 2 months ago

Just more taxes in the guise of a "fee".

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Stain 1 year, 2 months ago

The city really should give preference to a local company.

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Stain 1 year, 2 months ago

The city should not consider any company that does not recycle glass.

They should give preference to a company in Lawrence. There is no reason to suck money out of Lawrence to send to Kansas City and Belgium (Deffenbaugh).

And they should ask the company they choose to offer jobs to the small recycling businesses the city will put out of business.

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ljreader 1 year, 2 months ago

How long before the city mandates that we rent a compost bin from them?

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ljreader 1 year, 2 months ago

Is the City going to buy out gyms, health clubs, golf courses, and all the other enterprises they believe is their role to dabble in?

Fix the streets and sidewalks, etc. Leave businesses to entrepreneurs.

Because we already recycle (for free) in my household we have very little trash. Still, I'm forced to pay for a behemoth trash container which I can barely cover the bottom of with a week's worth of trash. Thanks for that waste of money. And just when can we expect to see the savings for this passed along to us??? At the very least- this latest brainstorm of curbside recycling should be optional. I'm sick of getting nickel and dimed to death by this town.

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Keith Richards 1 year, 2 months ago

Not a lawyer, but fortunately/unfortunately I know a few. Would be interested in the legality of buying out or compensating small local recycling businesses while not doing the same for the largest city recycling business, Deffenbaugh.

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Katara 1 year, 2 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.

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RDE87 1 year, 2 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!

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Centerville 1 year, 2 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.

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ljreader 1 year, 2 months ago

Why do taxpayers have to shell out money to buy out existing businesses? Why not let the private businesses stay in business, and let the City spend their time trying to find ways to reduce our taxes? When I want to recycle glass, I drop it off at the Ripple recycle glass bin. Never had to pay to buy someone out to do that.

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Topple 1 year, 2 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?

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gatekeeper 1 year, 2 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.

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pace 1 year, 2 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.

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Keith Richards 1 year, 2 months ago

96 gallons seems fine to me, assuming they take glass.

Glass CAN work

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omnedon 1 year, 2 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!

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Topple 1 year, 2 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.

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jj14 1 year, 2 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.

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tir 1 year, 2 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: http://deffenbaughinc.com/sites/default/files/RecyclingGuidelinesDetailed2012.pdf

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.

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guppypunkhead 1 year, 2 months ago

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

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 2 months ago

The more recycling the better.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 2 months ago

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

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