Latest City of Siloam Springs News

Posted on: September 1, 2017

City's Recycling Program Receives Commendations from Recycling Expert

curb-sort recycling truck

This letter to the editor written by recycling educator Louise Mann originally appeared in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Wednesday, August 30.

The recycling programs I do trust in Northwest Arkansas  include Bella Vista AARP, city of Siloam Springs and the Huntsville drop  off center in Madison County. The common threads are their collection  methods, transparency and ownership. They all keep recyclables  segregated during collection, just the way end-users like. End-users are  the companies trying to make new products from your recyclables. When  you buy a white cake mix you do not want to discover chili pepper  sprinkled throughout. Nor does a paper mill want to discover bits of  glass, plastic, metal, garbage or liquids in the paper bales they  purchase from your recycling program.

When you toss  glass, plastic, paper and metal together in a single-compartment truck  (single-stream recycling) you make one big mess. Do we know how much  garbage lands in the single-stream loads since few, if any bins get  checked at the curb with this automated system?

None of  the above-mentioned communities have allowed garbage haulers to take  total control of their recycling programs. That's great, because to do  so would be a conflict of interest. Recycling is supposed to be the  lowest priority in a Three-R program: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If a  community invests in an extremely high-tech recycling facility, they  must continually finance it. You can't seriously promote reduction and  reuse while continuously financing a high-maintenance facility. Same  problem with an incinerator.

Transparency is the norm at the above-mentioned communities.  You can walk in unannounced anytime and see the trucks dumping.  Unannounced is the key word here. Fort Smith got caught trashing their  recycling. Unfortunately they've hired another single-stream company.  You are not allowed to go unannounced to see the single-stream trucks  dump. Would unannounced observation reveal dirty diapers, needles, food  waste, and even dead animals mixed in with the recyclables?

On  July 18, the World Trade Organization sent out a memo from China.  Starting in January the Chinese will no longer take certain paper and  plastic grades coming from the United States. The Chinese are fed up  with America's trashed recyclables. With curb-sort collection, (the  truck has segregated compartments for each recyclable), the  contamination rate is less than 5 percent. Little Rock admits around 40  percent contamination with their single stream program. Collection  methods matter.

Communities must insist on clean  collection methods. Transparency measures from the curb to dumping and  baling must be in operation 24 hours a day. Collection and baling  facilities must allow anyone anytime to view the dumping and baling of  recyclables. Accountability and transparency laws must be passed in  every community, with punishment for fraud spelled out.

Curb-sort collection (truck has separate compartments for each item)  programs can be made more cost effective and easier for all parties.

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