Hybrid Patrol Cars, Waste Reduction at Core of Arkadelphia Initiatives (Green Initiatives | Honorable Mention, Between 5,000-20,000)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

While many towns are shrinking their budgets and looking for ways to cut spending, the city of Arkadelphia -- a town of more than 10,000 -- has made heavy investments in its sustainability practices.

In 2010 when Arkadelphia needed to replace much of its law enforcement patrol vehicles, the city looked for eco-friendly alternatives to the Ford Crown Victoria -- which would soon go out of production -- that would conserve fuel, reduce overall maintenance and operation costs, and in the long run, provide additional funds for the department.

“While the purchase was initially unpopular with some officers within the department, it is now a point of pride for our city and police department,” said Deborah Sesser, director of grants and research for Arkadelphia.

Arkadelphia took advantage of a USDA Rural Development grant that covered 15 percent of the total cost to purchase 10 Toyota Camry Hybrids for use as patrol cars. Since the purchase, the average MPG of the hybrids has been double that of the rest of the fleet.

“The actual amount of fuel savings coupled with vehicle performance and decreased maintenance has encouraged other departments to consider more energy-efficient projects and options when purchases are made,” Sesser said.

In January 2014, Arkadelphia’s patrol fleet will be completely hybridized.

The city has also looked at making a change in the recycling and waste efforts of the Arkadelphia Sanitation Department. In addition to aluminum cans, the department increased efforts to encompass all paper products. It was selected as one of thirteen Zero Waste pilot cities in the country, where it is on a path to recover 50 percent of its waste from the landfill by focusing on paper recyclables and providing free green recycling tubs to residents for weekly pickup.

“Since landfill waste continues to be a large problem, both with landfill fees, transportation costs and associated equipment repairs, it made sense to focus on that area of our operations,” Sesser said. “We knew that eliminating paper from our waste stream could cut the amount of garbage produced by nearly half, so we have been moving in that direction with the purchase and promotion of recycling tubs.”

With a little help from its increased recycling efforts, the department saw a reduction from 11,781.63 tons of waste in 2010 to 11,281.26 tons in 2012.

“By focusing on small changes in operations and taking advantage of the opportunities provided by necessary equipment replacement, Arkadelphia has endeavored to become more efficient and environmentally conscious as a fiscal policy,” Sesser said.



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