Fort Smith Seeks Recycling Solution After Sending Items To Landfill

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — The City of Fort Smith is seeking options for a long-term recycling solution after items from recycling bins have been going to a landfill for the past six months, according to a press release from City Administrator Carl Gefken.

The department of sanitation has operated a curbside recycling service since 1995. The press release states the service offers single-stream recycling that is sorted post-collection at a material recycling facility at no extra charge to Fort Smith residents above the monthly solid waste disposal rate.

The city does not own or operate a facility, so a third party must take the collected recyclables, sort them and process them for reuse by industry.

The cost of raw materials has decreased and remained low, the demand for recycled products lowered, resulting in fewer vendors willing to invest in the overhead necessary to take and sort recycled materials from municipal or commercial haulers.

As of September 2014, materials were transported to Green Source Recycling Center in Clarksville for disposal. The Clarksville facility accepted the materials at no cost to Fort Smith.

Green Source closed its single-stream processing line in 2016. With no vendors available, the city chose to dispose of material in the landfill until the city could secure a recycling processing contract.

The city received two responses to a request for proposals for single-stream recycling services. One from Smurfit KAPPA and one from MARCK Industries, Inc. Only MARCK proposed a rate for accepting co-mingled materials, which the press release stated was higher than the cost of the landfill disposal.

Household curbside recycling services are including in the $13.28 monthly solid waste disposal fee. The press release states the residential rate does not contain a specific component for recycling services. The department estimates the costs for recycling services would result in a net operating loss to the city of $230,000 or more.

Fort Smith is negotiating with MARCK for a recycling service contract without a need to charge users an additional fee.

Residents are encouraged to continue efforts to recycle appropriate household items in the separate recycling carts provided by the city

The press release stated that the city was committed to resolving the current situation and will have a short-term solution in place as soon as possible. They will also continue efforts to secure a long-term solution for a program that will benefit the entire region.