City of Lawrence                                        

Solid Waste Task Force

January 26, 2012 (6:00 PM) Meeting Minutes

Jayhawk Room, Fire-Medical Administration Building, 1911 Stewart Avenue



Mayor Cromwell, Billy Beeson, Suzi Cammon, Joe Harkins, Daniel Poull, Ralph Reed, Charlie Sedlock, Jeff Severin, Christine Tomlin, Dan Wethington



Sam Porritt


Dave Corliss, Tammy Bennett, Megan Gilliland, Craig Pruett, Kathy Richardson, Chuck Soules





Tom Coffman, Paul Davis, Kris Hicks, Chad Lawhorn



CALL MEETING TO ORDER - Mayor Aron Cromwell




Motion and second to approve the January 19, 2012 meeting minutes (Sedlock/Reed).

Vote was passed unanimously.




Mayor Aron Cromwell asked if any task force member had additional edits to the final draft of the Solid Waste Task Force report.


The task force discussed Marci Francisco’s feedback from the public meeting on January 19, 2012. She suggested keeping the drop-off recycling sites open and available for public use during the transition period towards curbside recycling. Also if the City’s multi-family customers will not receive curbside recycling service then it would be beneficial for them to still have an outlet to drop off their recyclables. The task force clarified that they have not stated they were in favor of discontinuing the City’s drop-off recycling program. Billy Beeson reminded the task force that some of the recycling drop-off sites are not owned or operated by the City of Lawrence thus the City does not have any control over closures for those sites. Mayor Aron Cromwell added that the City’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for residential curbside recycling service should also include commercial and multi-family recycling services as well as recycling options for downtown.


The following edits to the report were discussed and agreed on:


·                                   Add the term “multi-family” to the Commercial Section of the report so that it states “commercial / multi-family solid waste services”. This will address the concern raised by Marci Francisco at last week’s public meeting.


·                                   Choose the alternate language that appears under the Commercial Section.


·                                   Revise the text under the Public Input Section of the report to reflect updated information on last week’s public meeting (i.e. how many people in attendance).


·                                   Add an attachment to the report that provides details on themes and considerations relating to public input. Mention this attachment under the Public Input Section.


There was consensus on including the following table as an attachment to the Solid Waste Task Force report. The task force discussed each theme and provided a response to each as outlined below:




Satisfaction with status quo

(trash service, recycling options)

The Solid Waste Task Force (SWTF) understands that many residents are satisfied with current services, including the variety of options for managing recyclables.  However, the current system does not address core issues such as worker safety, increased efficiency, or increasing community recycling.  The system may not be broken, but it can be better.  Priorities for improvements are worker safety, cost effectiveness, and increased recycling rates. These will be accomplished through:

  • standardizing containers
  • increasing automation
  • increasing recycling opportunities.

Many services will continue without changes, such as collection of yard trimmings, household hazardous waste, and city-operated recycling drop-offs.

Concern about containers size

(containers too big for needs, inability to move them)

The SWTF reviewed many communities who have moved to standard containers and Lawrence will benefit from their collective experiences.  Multiple sizes of standard containers will be available to meet the needs of residents.  The SWTF learned the importance of assisting customers with “right-sizing” the container to fit their typical trash needs, as many communities found a tendency to underestimate weekly set-out quantities.  Most communities who have “containerized” report there was a great deal of similar concerns prior to implementation, but residents quickly began to value the new system.  Many people find the containers much easier to manage than their previous systems, especially when they are heavy.  The City will continue to assist residents who are not able to move their trash to the curb.  Arrangements can be made by calling the Solid Waste office.

Concern about container storage

(no room in garage, bad look for neighborhood)

Container storage is a valid concern – and one that people face already.  The City will offer assistance where they can.  Many advantages are noted with carts that may assist with storage and appearance concerns – uniform appearance, generally able to keep out rodents and neighborhood animals, lids keep out rain water, and the City will fix or replace normal cart damage.

Concern about managing yard trimmings

(especially leaf volumes in fall)

The SWTF recommended no changes to the yard trimmings collection.  People will still be able to use cans, city carts, and compostable paper bags to set out materials.  Some people may wish to use the city cart for grass and leaves on Mondays then household trash later in the week.  People can still use their old trash containers for yard trimmings if they wish, as long as the filled container doesn’t exceed 65 pounds (current requirement).

Concern about handling special collection situations

(KU move-out, holidays, clean-outs)

The SWTF recommended no changes for special collection situations.  The task force recognizes the importance of a clean, safe community.  No changes are recommended to bulk item pick-up.  Collection of excessive trash piles will be charged to the resident or property owner on a per event basis for piles which require one loader to expend more than five minutes to load the trash from a single stop.   Customers with recurring charges will be assessed and may be asked to obtain a larger or second cart.

Concern about 1-person trucks (safety, versatility)

Safety is a top priority.  Equipment will be evaluated with respect to employee safety and operational safety.  One-person trucks may not be as versatile as the current residential fleet of rear-load trash trucks with a three-person crew.  The SWTF recognizes there are some areas where fully automated trucks will work and some where they won’t.  The fleet will ultimately have a mix of trucks that increase automation and meet operational needs.  Routes will be designed to minimize dangers.  Trucks will be changed-out as they come up for replacement over several years, so the City will be able to make adjustments as fleet changes happen.

Concern about current employees

Staff anticipates that any reductions to the workforce will be managed through attrition.  As truck changes happen through the normal replacement cycle, the City will be able to make adjustments to staffing.  Job vacancies occur regularly in this division due to retirements or employees finding other job opportunities.  Trash trucks take a long time to replace.  Once a truck is ordered, it can take up to 9 months before delivery, so the division will be able to adjust staffing needs with normal vacancies. 

Desire to be able to opt out of recycling programs

One of the key goals of the SWTF is to increase recycling.  The pathway of city-wide curbside recycling is an effective method to achieve that goal.  Overall savings and efficiencies will be achieved by providing the program as part of the base rate.  An “opt-out” option is not sufficiently different than the current “opt-in” system to achieve the goals stated.  The SWTF heard from some people who currently recycle everything they can at no charge.  Even at no charge, recycling drop-off’s are not free.  Some of the considerations noted were the value of people’s time and the dependence on privately operated programs over which the City/community has no control.  

Ability to afford increased costs of services

The first phase of SWTF recommendations will be standard containers and moving toward increasing automation of the fleet through truck replacements.  Containers will not increase the cost to customers, as savings will be realized over time through reductions in worker injuries. 

The next phase of recommendations includes completing a Request for Proposals for city-wide residential recycling to get solid cost information for that service.  The City Commission would consider cost factors and community benefits when the information is received. 

The SWTF hopes everyone understands that without change, the current status quo of services will result in increased trash fees in the coming years.  We need to find strategies for long term savings for some critical cost drivers (employees, injuries, landfill).  The recommendations are geared to the cost drivers, to provide a long-term program that is affordable and responsible.

For residents who are both elderly and low income (over 60 with income from all sources less than $11,979), there is opportunity for a reduced solid waste fee.  

Concern about lack of inclusion of multi-family properties

Based on feedback at the second public comment session, some language changes were made in the SWTF report to clarify the commercial sections would include multi-family properties.

The SWTF recommendation to complete an RFP for recycling services may also address some recycling opportunities on multi-family properties and some commercial areas, such as downtown.

Desire for phased in approach (containers first, then automation, then recycling contract)

The SWTF understands that it is extremely likely that implementation of recommendations will be phased in.  Priorities for improvements are worker safety, cost effectiveness, increased recycling rates. These will be accomplished through:

  • standardizing containers
  • increasing automation
  • increasing recycling opportunities.

Public outreach will be critical at each step in the process. 

Concern about small business

If the City proceeds with a single stream city-wide residential recycling program with one contractor, it will likely cause disruptions to some or all of the curbside providers currently serving customers in Lawrence.  No regulations would prohibit residents from continuing services with the registered curbside providers.  The task force envisions opportunities for changes in the business model which may allow some companies to be viable, such as providing curbside residential or commercial glass collection, if glass is not included in the single stream program.

Concern that privatization option was sufficiently considered

The SWTF had high praise for the existing service.  A change to privatization would be strongly resisted by the community in general because of the quality of service currently provided.  The consensus was to keep the current program intact.  Several benefits of retaining the current system were also discussed by the SWTF, including the ability to assign personnel and equipment to special clean-up activities downtown, especially in alleys, flexibility to deal with difficult events like move days at the end of semesters, the ability to provide household hazardous waste services, the ability to provide yard waste services, and the ability to conduct public education activities.



The task force agreed to schedule another meeting next Tuesday, January 31st to consider adoption of the final draft of the Solid Waste Task Force report as amended at tonight’s meeting. Once the task force approves the final draft, a study session with the City Commission is the likely next step in the process.







Tuesday, January 31st

6:30 p.m.

Location: Commission Room at City Hall, 6 East 6th Street

Consider adoption of Final Report



Adjourned at 7:48 p.m.