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City receives four proposals for citywide, curbside recycling program; officials hope to keep monthly costs below $5

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Lawrence city officials haven’t forgotten about the idea of a curbside recycling program. A state law still is in place that stops the city from starting a new program prior to June 2014, but city officials have been spending a lot of time on the idea recently.

Sources tell me that a committee of city officials and a couple of members of the city’s Solid Waste Task Force spent seven hours last week listening to proposals from four companies or entities wanting to be involved in a proposed curbside recycling program in Lawrence.

City Manager David Corliss told me he was “cautiously optimistic” the proposals would produce a workable program for the city.

Corliss didn’t get into details, but another source told me that — at first glance — it appears the companies are putting together proposals that would offer weekly curbside recycling services at or below the $5 per month price point that some city officials have indicated would be acceptable.

But the details on this one will be important. For example, I haven’t heard whether the proposals included fuel escalator clauses, which would allow the monthly price to vary, depending on the price of diesel fuel.

“We want to make sure we completely understand all of the proposals before we make any recommendations,” Corliss said. “Each proposal has some interesting aspects.”

According to my source, the four entities that have submitted proposals are: Deffenbaugh Industries out of Kansas City; Waste Management, which is a major player in the Topeka market; Hamm Companies, which is the city’s current landfill provider; and a proposal put together by Lawrence’s own sanitation division.

Deffenbaugh and Waste Management are prepared to both collect and process the recycled materials. Hamm has proposed that the city would collect materials, but Hamm would build a new processing facility to handle the Lawrence materials. The city proposal calls for city crews to collect the materials, which then would be processed at a privately owned facility. Corliss confirmed the city is not proposing to build its own processing facility, which easily can be a multimillion-dollar project.

Under all of the proposals, the city would be responsible for handling the billing for the new service. The monthly amount would be added onto trash bills of city residents and businesses. As it is currently structured, every household would be required to pay for the service, whether they want it or not. City officials previously have said that is the way to ensure the service is delivered in the most efficient manner, and it helps the city boost its recycling rate, which has been a goal of all this.

City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will be taking a procedural step that keeps this process moving along. Commissioners are being asked to formally adopt a curbside recycling plan. But the plan is written in a pretty general way that doesn’t tie the city’s hands too much. Importantly, it also allows the city to back out of the idea, if it finds the project will cost too much.

Among details the plan does spell out are:

• Residents will be provided a special cart to set out recyclable materials. Residents won’t be required to do any sorting of materials. The plan doesn’t specify whether haulers have to accept glass. In the past, the city has said working glass into the program may be difficult.

• Where it is not feasible to provide a cart to a resident, such as people who live in apartment complexes, those residents will have access to “recycling stations,” which are cluster of recycling carts or Dumpsters.

• The city will consider plans that provide either weekly collection of recycling or every-other-week collection.

• A program should be designed with the goal of increasing the citywide recycling rate to 50 percent by 2020. The city has been changing how it figures its recycling rate, but previously the rate has been in the 30 percent range.

• A plan should be developed to minimize “displacement and economic impact to current recycling collectors.” There are about a half-dozen small, private companies that provide the service in Lawrence. The plan says the city will evaluate proposals, in part, on how well the city’s chosen provider works with those existing companies.

This is where the plan may get trickier than that pyramid of beer cans you have built in your garage waiting for the city to start a curbside program.

Jim Tuchscherer, owner of Home Recycling, said neither Deffenbaugh or Waste Management has contacted him about how his 13-year-old business might be incorporated into a citywide system.

The city of Lawrence has contacted Tuchscherer about its idea, but Tuchscherer hasn’t liked what he’s heard. Tuchscherer said the city is proposing that the recycling companies be allowed to keep their current customers but not be allowed to add new ones.

“I’ve told the city that I’m not opposed to increasing recycling, but I am opposed to the city voting to put me out of business,” Tuchscherer said.

Tuchscherer said he thinks the fair thing for the city to do would be to buy out his business and the other small recycling companies that operate in the city. I haven’t heard any serious talk of that happening, however, at City Hall.

Tuchscherer said he doesn't think the city will find a way to successfully incorporate the small companies into a citywide plan.

“I don’t think there is a workable option,” Tuchscherer said. “I’m sure Waste Management and Deffenbaugh have figured that out too.”

Assuming commissioners pass the plan at Tuesday’s meeting, the next big action step is expected in January, when commissioners will be presented summaries of the proposals presented by the four entities.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Comments

d_prowess 1 year, 8 months ago

As a customer of Home Recycling, I would be annoyed if these city-wide plans forced them out of business. Jim and his people do a great job, they come once a month (which is all I need), they call me the day before to remind me they are coming, and probably most importantly, they take glass!
I just don't understand any city wide recycling program that would not include glass. The whole reason I pay for a service like Home Recycling is so I don't have to load up the various materials and take them somewhere. Hopefully, if this does end up going through in a couple years, people will have the option to avoid paying for the city service if they show proof that they are recycling though another provider. And if not, Jim, I would probably still pay you to pick up once a month as long as glass was included. I am just not sure enough others would too so that it would be worth it for you...

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irvan moore 1 year, 8 months ago

is this another project that has to be decided before the next commission takes over?

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gccs14r 1 year, 8 months ago

Any curbside service needs to take glass and all seven types of plastic packaging. I would prefer the City do it because that would be more efficient than having multiple companies all traveling the same routes, each one collecting just a portion of the recycling stream.

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gccs14r 1 year, 8 months ago

I know someone who needs to have his emissions controlled.

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webmocker 1 year, 8 months ago

"And Bo was going to open his new facility and take the stuff for free!"

Was he going to pick it up at everyone's house? If not, he was simply going to be redundant, as Mall-Wart already takes the stuff for free.

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repaste 1 year, 8 months ago

I believe Walmart takes to the stuff to "bo" .

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KiferGhost 1 year, 8 months ago

It is important for our commissioners to outsource one more local job producing enterprise to corporate Goliaths. Thanks commissioners for your service. Must be hard to sleep at night.

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waitjustaminute 1 year, 8 months ago

I am mad as hell this is mandatory. I've been recycling for decades, and have no use for a curb-side system, won't use, and will still have to pay for it? And that transparent (phony) pharase, ". . . most efficient manner" is just another way of saying, we'll take your money whether you use it or not, 'cause it has to be a money maker. An unfair tax (payment) that sounds a lot like what has happened in our nation's capitol. God save us from both.

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jafs 1 year, 8 months ago

Are you mad that you have to pay for yard waste collection, even if you don't use it?

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KiferGhost 1 year, 8 months ago

"Under all of the proposals, the city would be responsible for handling the billing for the new service. The monthly amount would be added onto trash bills of city residents and businesses. As it is currently structured, every household would be required to pay for the service, whether they want it or not."

You've got to love the freedom of options allowed since there are private local providers right now who do take glass who will be ran out of business by corporate America. Hamm isn't even local anymore but owned by one of those shadowy investment companies. Thanks commissioners for doing the public service so well. Do you sleep at night?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Hamm is owned by some Belgium group if my memory serves me well.... the same that own Deffenbaugh.

I prefer my own local choice... and/or do what we can to create more jobs for Lawrence,Kansas. Outsourcing takes local dollars with it.

BTW Kansas has the 9th highest sales tax in the nation. Lawrence must be in the top ten then add the "secret sales taxes" into the scenario...

Talk about business unfriendly...

Talk about senior citizen unfriendly...

Talk about unfriendly for shoppers...

Talk about unfriendly...

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irvan moore 1 year, 8 months ago

i hope the lawrence sanitation proposal is given a fair shot at getting the contract but i don't think it will be

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 8 months ago

One of the first indicators of a cities financial stability is to watch how and when they increase user fees. This falls into that category. The city is looking to get more money to cash checks they wrote with their mouth that their collective arses can't cash.

Folks, we do not have the money for all these new buildings, streets, bicycle paths...and the other "Feels" good projects some in this city are demanding.

Winners play from in front, that is, why don't we position ourselves where we can fully fund projects, instead of paying interest on loans for them.

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gccs14r 1 year, 8 months ago

"Winners play from in front, that is, why don't we position ourselves where we can fully fund projects, instead of paying interest on loans for them."

Wouldn't that be nice? Save up for something, then pay cash for it. Leave borrowing for emergencies.

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