Sustainability Advisory Board

Kevin Powell

The purpose of the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB) is to advise the Governing Body of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, regarding issues affecting sustainability, environmental protection, waste reduction, recycling,
energy conservation and natural resource conservation, and environmental protection. SAB was originally formed as a Lawrence Recycling Board in 1989, and changed to the Lawrence Recycling and Resource Conservation Advisory Board in 1991 (with additional responsibilities given). By 2007, the Board again recognized a need for a broadened scope and mission and became the Sustainability Advisory Board under Ordinance No. 8101.

Meeting Information

Sustainability Advisory Board Meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at Parks and Recreation Administration Building in South Park, 1141 Massachusetts St, Lawrence, KS 66044 unless otherwise stated.

For meeting cancellations, please contact Jasmin Moore, Sustainability Director, at 785-331-9813 or jamoore@lawrenceks.org.

Single-Use Plastic Update

The Sustainability Advisory Board voted on July 11, 2018 to explore a single-use plastics ordinance and add it to the SAB priority goals.

A subcommittee formed to develop a research approach intended to:

  1. Investigate the impact of single-use plastics;
  2. Investigate policies to encourage reduction single-use plastics; and
  3. Identify policy recommendations to present to the Sustainability Advisory Board and, ultimately, to the City Commission.

The SAB subcommittee partnered with a group of University of Kansas Masters of Public Administration graduate-level students to conduct policy research during the Fall 2018 semester. The students developed an Assessment of Policy Alternatives to Reduce the Consumption of Single-Use Plastic Bags in the City of Lawrence, Kansas, which includes policy research and recommendations from the class. These are not final recommendations from the Sustainability Advisory Board.

SAB recognizes there are many perspectives regarding this topic. The subcommittee engaged stakeholders in 2019 to gain insight into business, environmental, and social concerns and considerations regarding single-use plastics.

The Single Use Plastics Subcommittee developed a report of policy research and recommendations, which were discussed and considered by the Sustainability Advisory Board on July 2. The SAB voted to recommend the following to the City Commission, which was received and discussed by the City Commission at the August 13 City Commission meeting:

Sustainability Advisory Board recommends an ordinance to impose a $0.16 per bag fee upon checkout and will apply to both single-use plastic and paper bags. Bags used to carry bulk items (such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts), raw meat, and seafood are exempt from charge.

Additional provisions of the ordinance should include:

Retailers that offer single-use bags (those 4 mils thick and less) will have their purchase fee clearly displayed along with an educational flyer, provided by the city, explaining the rationale behind the bag fee;

Revenue collected from bag sales should be allocated to:

  • Address administration and evaluation costs associated with the implementing the policy, including collecting baseline data six months prior to program initiation;
  • Support local environmental education and environmental initiatives; and
  • Support programming for low income Lawrence residents, including access to reusable bags

An educational campaign and reusable bag give away should occur during the launch of the policy and will occur annually thereafter; and the Sustainability Advisory Board should review the policy every  12 months to suggest updates and revisions, as necessary.

The City Commission referred the item to staff to research further and bring back for consideration before the end of 2019.

SAB Priority Areas

  • Climate Action/Protection/Adaptation plan in response to the climate crisis
  • 100% renewable energy goal
  • Decrease Food Waste
  • Decrease single-use plastics
  • Energy efficiency incentives for rental property
  • Develop a sustainability decision criteria for policies that come before the city commission.