Conway: Serious About Recycling (Green Initiatives (Over 20K) | Winner)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 12:00 am  

Conway offers residents curbside collection, a free co-mingled program in which no sorting of recyclables is necessary, and its recycling program accepts many items traditionally excluded elsewhere such as Styrofoam and plastic bags.

Then there’s the 35,000-SF recycling center that boasts a new $1.7 million automated sorting system that can sort through the same volume in one to three hours that it takes five days to do manually.

Indeed, Conway is serious about its recycling, and that commitment to conservation initiatives earned it recognition as a 2011 Arkansas Business Green City of Distinction.

Angela Howard, recycling coordinator with the city’s sanitation department, said that in addition to the program’s other features, the new sorting system is the most sophisticated in the region. “These factors have allowed us to achieve the ultimate initial goal of offering the most comprehensive, convenient and successful program in the state,” she said.

The Conway Sanitation Department owns and operates the recycling program as well as the city landfill and compost facility. The self-sufficient program was created through a $1 million bond issue passed in 1994 with 93 percent of the vote. Its reception in the community since has been just as overwhelmingly positive.

“Recycling rates in our volunteer program are more than twice the statewide average of other community recycling rates,” Howard said. “We have also begun extending weekly curbside co-mingled recycling routes to rural areas of Faulkner County by a partnership with the Faulkner County Solid Waste Management District, adding well over 1,000 new weekly recyclers to our routes.”

Model Practices

Howard said the recycling program represents Conway’s commitment to enhance the quality of life of its residents and businesses, and even those in neighboring communities.

“Conway’s integrated solid-waste management program is unmatched throughout the state in scope and breadth with a residential recycling participation rate of 68 percent in our completely elective program compared to the statewide average recycling rate of 32 percent,” Howard said. “Because of this, we’ve played host to several delegations from neighboring municipalities interested in replicating the services we offer to our community.”

Model programs and practices employed by the city and copied by others include:

• The addition of plastic grocery bags and department store sacks to the recycling programs, as well as textiles such as bedding and towels. And, of course, Styrofoam was added to the list of co-mingled recyclables.

• Conway has teamed with the Faulkner County Solid Waste District to offer free electronics recycling to all county residents. At its first electronics recycling event, Conway’s sanitation department collected more than 150,000 tons of electronics waste for recycling, collected from local residents, schools and businesses. Howard said the department has pledged to offer such an event annually, and that the most inspiring part of the event was the more than 100 community volunteers, including students from the University of Central Arkansas and Hendrix College, who helped over the two-day event.



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