LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
City gets proposals for citywide, curbside recycling; proposed rates come in between $2 and $5 per month
The idea of adding citywide, curbside recycling service in Lawrence may get its biggest boost yet on Tuesday night.
City commissioners will get their first glimpse at proposed rates to run a curbside recycling service, and the potential increase to monthly city utility bills is coming in below the $5 range that city officials had once projected.
Depending on how you structure the service, the city has bids that would increase the monthly trash rate of residents by about $2 per month for every-other-week service to a little less than $5 per month for weekly service.
As we previously reported, the city received bids from four entities, but if the issue is based just on rates, it looks like two providers will get the most attention: Deffenbaugh Industries out of Kansas City, and a proposal from the city’s Public Works Department for city crews to provide the service.
Here’s a look at some of the proposed pricing for residential customers:
• Deffenbaugh Industries: $2.15 to $2.80 per month to run bi-weekly service; $3.51 to $4.45 to run weekly service. Under this proposal Deffenbaugh would do all collection and processing of recycled materials.
• City of Lawrence: $2.19 to $2.64 per month to run bi-weekly service; $3.50 to $3.94 per month to run weekly service. Under this proposal, city crews would do all collection, but Deffenbaugh Industries would process the recycled materials at its facility in Kansas City. The city also received proposals from Waste Management and Hamm Companies to process the materials, but those bids generally were higher than Deffenbaugh’s proposal.
• Waste Management: $2.68 to $4.01 per month for bi-weekly service; $4.94 to $5.97 per month for weekly service. Under this proposal crews from Waste Management would handle both collection and processing of the materials. Waste Management recently opened a recycling processing center in Topeka.
City officials will have a lot of information to wade through in evaluating the proposals. In addition to the current bids, the city asked each company to provide an estimate of how large of an annual increase in rates each provider would expect. In that category, Waste Management provided the best option. It estimates annual increases at 3 percent per year. Deffenbaugh estimates 3.58 percent per year, and the city estimates 4.15 percent per year.
The city also will have to determine whether there is value in having a recycling processing center close to Lawrence. If that is the case, Hamm Companies has the best proposal. Hamm is proposing to build a new recycling collection center near the intersection of U.S.. Highway 24-40 and Kansas Highway 32 on property northeast of Lawrence.
Another issue city commissioners will have to grapple with is whether the service ought to be weekly or every two weeks. Somewhat surprisingly, the city’s Public Works Department leaders are recommending every-other-week service. Most of the discussion during the city’s Solid Waste Task Force deliberations focused on weekly service. But the Public Works Department notes the every-other-week service would produce a lower cost to the customer, would require fewer miles to be driven by trash trucks and would have less impact on the environment because it would produce fewer vehicle emissions.
Concerns, however, have been expressed that people may not remember which week is recycling week, if the city goes with every-other-week service. The city also is estimating that every-other-week service would require households to have a 95-gallon cart to handle recyclables. That’s a larger cart than the city’s standard 65-gallon cart.
But make no mistake, with whatever curbside recycling option is chosen, residents are going to have another city-issued cart to care for. All the proposals are based on the use of semi-automated or fully automated trucks, which means carts would be mandatory.
All of the proposals also are based on the idea that every household in the city would have the recycling fee added to their monthly bills, regardless of whether they use the service.
And here’s another big consideration for commissioners: Glass, as in glass beer bottles and such. As I read the proposals, Waste Management and its new processing center is the only one of the proposals that is ready to handle glass. Deffenbaugh’s center does not process glass. Hamm Companies did not include glass processing in its proposal to the city, but it said it could provide an alternate proposal if the city wishes to include glass as part of the service.
It will be interesting to see whether Lawrence residents come out strongly one way or the other on whether glass should be part of the city’s curbside recycling program. Currently, there are several glass drop-off stations in the city.
Commissioners will review the proposals at their 6:35 p.m. meeting on Tuesday. How quickly commissioners act on the curbside recycling idea also will be interesting to watch. An odd state law requires the city to wait until at least June 2014 to begin the service. But the city would need to make the commitment to create the service well before then. It seems very possible that the current group of city commissioners will want to make the decision before the City Commission general election in April.