Leawood may soon join the ranks of Johnson County cities who provide residents with a way to recycle glass for free.
At this month’s meeting of the Sustainability Advisory Board, representatives from Kansas City-based Ripple Glass met with the board to discuss the possibility of placing a few of the company’s recognizable purple recycling bins across Leawood.
If approved by the city, two or three bins would be placed in parking lots within roughly a 5-minute drive of one another.
The bins, which hold up to five to seven tonnes of glass each, would take up a singular parking space and would be free to host.
“I actually think City Hall [across the street from Town Center Plaza] would be a good location because it’s so central to the city,” board member Bill Blessing said.
Other areas pitched by the board on potential places to put the bins were Church of the Resurrection, Johnson County Library, Mission Farms and City Park.
Issues in the past
Currently, according to Ripple Glass metro program manager Morgan Henderson, Leawood is the only city in Johnson County that does not have any of the company’s glass recycling bins.
“I think our biggest hurdle in Leawood, in the past at least, has been city code language that requires recycling bins to be screened on three sides,” Henderson said. “If the bins were to be screened off, it’s a bit tougher to see initially and to physically drop glass off in the bin.”
Additionally, she said, having the bins encased on three sides would make it difficult for the company to replace them each time they are full.
Councilmember Chuck Sipple said he would be willing to try to mitigate this issue, possibly by seeing if the city council would alter the city code or make an amendment specifically for Ripple Glass.
Other avenues for recycling
In addition to placing the large bins in Leawood, the board also discussed other avenues in which glass recycling could be incorporated into the daily lives of residents.
In particular, Sipple said his neighborhood homeowners association has subscribed to a biweekly curbside glass pickup for a small monthly fee, and he liked the possibility of more neighborhoods doing the same thing.
That idea did receive some pushback from others on the board who said it sounded nice in theory, but it could be hard to execute.
“As someone coming from a homeowners association that has 1,100 members, I can tell you that we’ve done surveys, and charging people that additional fee is not popular,” board member Mark Ciaramitaro said.
There was also discussion of trying to convince more businesses in Leawood to partake in Ripple Glass’s commercial program, which is a curbside-pickup program for businesses.
“I’ve identified in Leawood 48 potential partners for our commercial program, and we currently work with 11 of those,” said Piercyn Charbonneau, Ripple Glass’s commercial program manager.
Looking to the future
The meeting ended with the board saying they would work to get approval from the city council on allowing city staff to work with Ripple Glass on finding the best places to put the recycling bins.
All other decisions about the bins will be discussed by the board at future meetings.
Henderson said the glass recycling company has seen great success with the Johnson County cities that have introduced the bins so far, and she expected Leawood would be the same.
“It’s been a great way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint and also save money on the landfill tipping fees,” Henderson said. “It’s kind of a win-win for everybody.”