Lawrence City Commission to discuss possible expansion of city recycling collection

Recycling materials are pulled up a conveyor to be sent through a complex sorting system on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 at the Hamm's Recycling Facility, 26195 Linwood Road, that processes Lawrence's recyclable materials.

Though the city picks up all recyclable materials from Lawrence residents’ curbs, recycling for local businesses is limited.

At its work session Tuesday, however, the City Commission will discuss how to change that by possibly expanding the city’s single-stream recycling service to businesses.

Commissioner Matthew Herbert has expressed concerns to the commission on a few occasions about the limited options for businesses that want to recycle, noting the consistent amount of glass and cans that restaurants and bars produce.

At a commission meeting last month, Herbert said he recently received a request from the Lawrence Restaurant Association requesting the city provide a commercial recycling program. Herbert asked that a work session be scheduled to discuss whether a city-run commercial recycling service has any viability.

“So we can actually have a conversation, perhaps actually receive a staff report and a recommendation,” Herbert said.

Recycling options for Lawrence businesses are limited to the city providing free cardboard and office paper collection for “small to medium-sized” businesses and schools, according to its website.

More than 500 businesses currently participate in the cardboard program and 90 participate in the paper program, according to Kathy Richardson, solid waste manager for the city. Richardson noted in an email that there are local recycling facilities that accept certain materials, but that the Hamm single-stream recycling center the city uses is not open for large public dropoffs.

A brief city staff memo to the commission on the topic does not provide a staff recommendation, but does list some challenges related to offering a single-stream recycling service for businesses. Those include space issues for additional collection containers and the challenge of collections downtown, plus general challenges of efficiency. Operational costs for collection containers, trucks and personnel would also have to be considered, according to the memo.

As part of the commission’s work session Tuesday, staff with the city’s solid waste division will give a presentation on the topic. The presentation will provide background on the division’s goals, an update on the citywide single-stream recycling program and information on the cost and terms of the city’s recycling service agreement with Hamm, according to the memo.

The city’s residential single-stream recycling collection service began in the fall of 2014, and also includes collections at city buildings and public and private schools, according to the city’s website.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.