The City of Lawrence Solid Waste Division, which includes the Waste Reduction and Recycling Division, utilizes an Enterprise Fund account for its operations. The City's solid waste services are financed and operated in a manner similar to private business enterprises. The intent of the governing body is that the costs of providing services (collection, disposal, recycling, and technical assistance) to the general public is financed or recovered primarily through user changes.
Lawrence has been active in developing waste reduction and recycling opportunities through a variety of private and public services since the early 1990's. In general, Lawrence used a targeted diversion strategy to develop programs based on volume / weight in the waste stream and toxicity of materials. Lawrence targeted yard waste on the residential side and cardboard on the commercial side as major first steps to reducing the overall tons of material put in the landfill each year. Privately owned community drop-off recycling centers have been available in Lawrence since 1993. There are thirteen city-operated recycling drop-off locations for newspaper, cardboard, mixed paper, and / or glass. In addition, there are currently six private companies registered to provide residential curbside recycling services by subscription, for a fee.
In 2010, an estimated 88,484 tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) was generated by Lawrence households and businesses. Of this total, an estimated 54,549 tons was landfilled and 33,935 tons recovered (25,229 tons recycled and 8,706 tons composted). The 2010 Lawrence MSW recycling rate was 38 percent.
Recently the community was engaged in a comprehensive look at solid waste management services in Lawrence, through the Solid Waste Task Force (SWTF), created in February 2011. The final SWTF report was presented to the City Commission on February 28, 2012. The report focuses on providing strategic direction to manage the waste stream to place increasing emphasis on waste diversion over time.