ROELAND PARK, Kan. — Following a six-month pilot program, the city of Roeland Park could soon make curbside glass recycling a permanent service. 

In October, the city launched a pilot program with Ripple Glass for curbside glass recycling. Ripple offered  654 Roeland Park households curbside pick-up twice a month at a rate of $2.50 per household, per month.

The pilot program had a 62% participation rate and the city paid approximately $9,000 to cover the cost of the program with no cost to homeowners. 

Collection numbers from the Roeland Park curbside glass recycling pilot program.

During a city council work session Monday, city leaders reviewed four options for the future of the program including: 

  • A city-wide curbside glass recycling option paid for by the city.
  • A glass recycling pick up option paid for by residents.
  • An option for residents to participate in glass recycling with an outside vendor and be reimbursed by the city. 
  • An option to follow the status quo by allowing residents opt-in for curbside subscription at their own expense without city involvement. 

Cost for residents  

If the city serves as the contractor for a city-wide glass recycling program, it would cost roughly $77,000 annually. That cost would be taken out of the city’s general fund. Any money taken from the general fund will reduce the amount of money available for capital projects. Under this option there would be no additional fee for homeowners. 

Under the second option, if a curbside glass recycling program were to be added to residents’ solid waste bill, residents would pay about $27 a year for that service. 

The city also considered an option that allows residents to opt-in to a glass recycling program with an outside vendor and receive a 50% or 100% reimbursement from the city. 

If residents chose to participate in a glass recycling program with an outside vendor with a 50% reimbursement from the city, the average homeowner would pay about $60 annually. This option would cost the city roughly $71,870 a year. A 100% reimbursement option would cost the city approximately $143,741 annually.

“The accounting and management of the city as the sole contractor is much simpler. We are one invoice. We will pay our bills on time and they can trust our accounting system and have one account to handle us versus adding another full-time employer,” Assistant City Manager Erin Winn said. 

Cost of glass recycling options.

Currently the average cost of curbside glass recycling is about $120 annually. 

“We’re talking about lowering the mill levy. I just can’t see doing that at this time. I can’t see the city paying for it,” Councilmember Tom Madigan said. “That $77,000 could be used for other projects. To me at this time the only way to go is the status quo.” 

Councilmember Jennifer Hill said she feels the discounted rate of having the city as the service provider is worth it if it encourage more people to recycle glass. 

“Those of us who currently recycle glass are going to continue regardless, but we need to get more people recycling glass. It affects us in ways far beyond what we can see today,” Hill said. 

Environmental impact 

The city’s current solid waste provider, GFL Environmental, estimates overall curbside recycling (excluding glass) participation in Roeland Park is approximately 92%. 

Based on that figure, it’s estimated the average Roeland Park household sets out 491lbs. of recycling and  1,335lbs. of trash annually. If Roeland Park residents adopt curbside glass recycling at the same rate as general recycling (92%), it’s estimated the program would divert approximately 830,312 lbs. of glass from the landfill each year. 

Roeland Park 2021 resident survey

The 2021 Citizen Survey shows 33.9% of Roeland Park residents wouldn’t be supportive of a resident-paid glass recycling program while 34.1% of residents said they would be very supportive of the program. 

No formal action on the glass recycling program was taken Monday. City leaders directed staff to research options allowing Roeland Park to serve as the main provider for curbside glass recycling.

If city leaders decide to move forward with plans for a city-wide curbside glass recycling program the city will issue a request for proposal (RFP) from area vendors to determine official cost of the program. Any official program would be voted on by the city council at a later date.