America's largest city without a curbside recyclables collection plan will start one soon - and not just any plan. The recycling blueprint put forward by Kansas City, Mo., calls for a program that not only is expected to pay its own way, but will gather ``nearly all'' plastic bottles and hard-to-recycle items like multilayer juice boxes. Voter skepticism and a tight budget have forced the city to use only existing collection trucks in the program, which will be anchored by a materials-recovery facility housed in a 200,000-square-foot, city-owned building.
The skepticism is evidenced by Missouri's Hancock Law, which requires any funding request for new city services to be approved by popular referendum. Kansas City voters in 1990 and 1992 turned down initiatives seeking recycling funding.
The curbside collection program is being funded under existing budgets.
But Mayor Emanuel Cleaver II, accompanied by officials from city government and national recycling groups, unveiled plans for the new curbside recycling program Sept. 11, stressing that its long-term costs of collecting recyclables will be paid for with money from their eventual sale.
``Now more than ever it is time for curbside recycling in Kansas City,'' Cleaver said at a news conference announcing the new MRF program at last week's annual gathering of the National Recycling Coalition.
The National Association of Plastic Container Recovery is providing a $200,000 grant to the city to install state-of-the-art sorting equipment for plastic bottles at the proposed MRF.
A spokeswoman for Bridging the Gap, a local recyclables collection company involved with the project, said requests for proposals on completing the MRF have not been sent out.
Luke Schmidt, president of NAPCOR, said the association has been working with the city since early 1995 to initiate a program to help in the collection of PET containers from the municipal waste stream.
``This is a unique program,'' he said in a Sept. 13 telephone interview from his Charlotte, N.C., office. Its idea is not simply to divert trash from the landfill, but to mine the resources available in recyclables.
``Kansas City will show the rest of the country how to develop an effective and cost-efficient curbside recycling program using existing assets and a minimum of capital investment,'' Schmidt said. ``As the trade association for the world's most-recycled plastic, we are pleased to help lead the way to the future of recycling.''
Kansas City's population of 400,000 has 150,000 households from which most plastic containers - including ``nearly all'' plastic bottles - paperboard, junk mail, polycoated containers and juice boxes would be collected for recycling, according to a news release from the mayor.