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Although funding changes will take place on July 1, we want all of our citizens to know that the recycling program for the citizens of the city of Hot Springs will continue uninterrupted.

The phones at the Recycling Center have been busier than usual with concerned callers asking about the possibility of the program ending at the end of this month once funding is no longer provided by the Southwest Central Regional Solid Waste Management District.

The Recycling Center, located at 218 Runyon St., was Arkansas' first regional material recoveries facility. The SWCRSWMD established this MRF to process and market recyclable items collected in Clark, Hot Springs, and Garland counties, and the municipalities in each, including Hot Springs. Funding was provided by the Recycling Grant Fund administered by SWCRSWMD.

Over time, participation and funding from throughout the district to the Hot Springs facility decreased. This was either due to decreased participation in their city or county, or the services were contracted with private firms, or recycling centers were built closer to their operations. With funding on the decline and additional needs within the district, a decision was made by SWCRSWMD to use the grant funds for other purposes, such as the popular Household Hazardous Waste and Spring Fling collections. In addition, this will also free up funds to be used for recycling programs and education in schools within the district.

As such, beginning July 1 the SWCRSWMD will no longer fund the Recycling Center as a regional MRF. The city of Hot Springs has leased the facility to the district for more than 20 years and these operations will continue, only now will be the city of Hot Springs Recycle Center. The district has agreed to sell the existing equipment to the city at a favorable cost to ensure the city's recycling efforts continue. The budget for the center has always been approved by the SWCRSWMD; however, with this change, there will be a request to the city board to amend the 2019 city of Hot Springs Solid Waste budget to include the remaining six months of the year.

We have been researching ways to offset the costs of the facility moving forward. Through outreach initiatives, the city hopes to increase the amount of recyclable materials coming into the recycling facility as a part of offsetting expenses. Only 22-25 percent of Hot Springs citizens currently participate in the recycling program. We would love for the number to grow to 80 percent or more. Many of the barriers to beginning and continuing with recycling have been broken down courtesy of Hot Springs' Earth Angel Recycling Program. Through this initiative, residents receive a recycling container for curbside pickup at no additional cost. To enter into the program and have a container delivered to your home, simply call 501-321-6911.

The city is also reaching out to area businesses, schools and hospitals to further increase the amount of recyclables to be processed at the center. The city furnishes more than 350 cardboard enclosures for area businesses, which have been provided at no cost with free pickup. This not only saves businesses the cost associated with not having to dispose of the bulky boxes but also the landfills from having to deal with a minimum of two semitrailer loads of cardboard each week. A part of the transition to a city-run recycling center may include a fee for the cardboard enclosures. If a fee is needed, the cost would be minimal, especially when compared to what the business' increased cost would be to have the materials transported to the landfill.

Another cost-offset opportunity will be through grants. There are grant opportunities through ADEQ and the solid waste district for equipment, education, or any number of other recycling initiatives. The SWCRSWMD will also continue to fund the Spring Fling and Household Hazardous Waste programs for the community.

The Recycling Center processes 160 tons of cardboard and 60 tons of newspaper each month. Every ton of paper saves about 17 trees, which also cuts down around 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. To produce each week's Sunday newspaper, at least 500,000 trees must be cut down. Recycling just one run of the Sunday edition of The New York Times would save 75,000 trees.

The success of any recycling system is established through the participation rate of those taking advantage of the service. Recycling seldom covers the cost of collection, however, it is the right thing to do for our environment and costs much less than disposal in a landfill. Recycling services will continue in Hot Springs at your residential curbside, business, Valley Street drop-off location and the city of Hot Springs Recycling Center.

The recycling drop-off center, located at the corner of Valley and Runyon streets, processes the following materials: newsprint, aluminum, corrugated cardboard, glass, sorted office paper, plastic No. 1 and plastic No. 2. The Recycling Center also accepts e-waste, which includes computers, monitors, televisions, keyboards, VCRs, DVD players, microwaves and other small electronics. The facility is open from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The proposed plan for the Recycling Center will go before the board of directors on June 18 at the regularly scheduled meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 133 Convention Blvd., and is open to the public.

Please remember the four R's -- Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.

Editorial on 06/11/2019

Print Headline: City recycling will continue despite funding changes

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