Working to Raise Recycling Participation

Arkansas Energy Corps members Ben Maddox and Nina Prater are helping the City of Fayetteville Solid Waste & Recycling Division raise recycling participation.

Ben writes:

The city of Fayetteville has been known for its higher-than average recycling rates for years. It routinely observes a 50-55% residential participation rate in its recycling program – far greater than the national participation rate of 34%. But for city officials and the Energy Corps members serving with the Solid Waste and Recycling Division, there’s always room for improvement. Fellow Energy Corps member Nina Prater and I have been working with the city to meet some of the ambitious goals they have set for the recycling program in Fayetteville. In an attempt to raise the aforementioned 55% participation rate to at least 70% by 2015, the city has asked Energy Corps to help with educating residents about recycling as well as assisting in the development of new collection methods to reach underserved demographics in Fayetteville. Two major components of the push to 70% are increasing recycling among businesses and among apartment residents. To achieve this, the city has begun a glass recycling program for restaurants and bars on Dickson Street in an attempt to prevent the tons of glass bottles thrown out every evening from ending up in the landfill. Special glass recycling roll carts have been purchased and Nina and I have been busy developing educational materials for business owners and their employees in an attempt to raise awareness and excitement for the new program.

Additionally, the city has been working on ways to extend its recycling services to apartment residents who are not currently eligible for curbside collection. There are approximately 14,000 apartment units in Fayetteville, and while servicing apartments has long vexed city planners nationwide (due largely to the high-density of multifamily housing and lack of space for recycling containers and trucks in already crowded parking lots), reaching out to these residents will be vital to hitting the 70% mark. In the meantime the city will be constructing a new recycling drop-off center on North Street to compliment the existing drop-off on Happy Hollow Road in south Fayetteville. Scheduled for completion this May, the new drop-off center will bring recycling services to the university district, an area with a large population of apartment residents.

Nina and I are proud to be working alongside city officials in the push to reduce waste in Fayetteville. From educating citizens to designing new programs and services, our efforts are part of Fayetteville’s long-term sustainability goals and will help to continue the tradition of environmental stewardship here in Northwest Arkansas. We look forward to the new year, which promises to be full of change and innovation.

Ben Maddox

A Fayetteville native, Ben Maddox graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2011 where he specialized in the political economy of international relations.  He serves with the Fayetteville Solid Waste and Recycling division, where his primary responsibilities include environmental education, public outreach, and program development.  He will work to increase waste diversion and recycling participation through targeting under-served portions of the population, particularly apartment residents and businesses.  This is Ben’s second Americorps position after previously serving with the U.S. Forest Service in Southern California.

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