Fort Smith’s Recycling Resumes Monday After Agreement Reached

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Starting Monday (June 26) Fort Smith residents recyclables will be picked up and taken to a newly leased warehouse. Third Rock Recycling Inc. and Pen Sales will now accept Fort Smith's recycling materials. The pair has secured and leased a warehouse on Highway 271 for the process.

City leaders said Third Rock Recycling will accept the material at the leased facility where it will take about three weeks to get equipment up and running. Until that time city leaders said materials being delivered starting on Monday will be stockpiled until it can be compacted.

"Crews will start bringing the collections that they make from the neighborhoods to this facility and dump them out on the floor," said Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman. "It will be bailed and loaded on to trucks or train cars or whatever it is, and they will get it out of here and send it to an MRF facility."

This process will cost the City of Fort Smith $24,000 a month according to Dingman. That money will come out of the Fort Smith Sanitation Department's budget.

This is a short-term plan according to the President of Third Rock Recycling Inc. Adam Callihan.

"We have already started immediately looking into locating and hopefully making a purchase in the immediate future for sorting equipment, then the sorting equipment will be put into our facility and then everything will no longer be outsourced anywhere. It will be handled and processed in Fort Smith," Callihan stated.

The City of Fort Smith has not had a recycling contract with a processor since 2014, according to a press release. Since that time it has been uncovered that a large portion of resident's recyclables has been going straight to the landfill to be disposed.

Many hope Fort Smith residents will participate in this short-term plan.

"I feel like it's hard to trust them after this," said Fort Smith resident Rachel Burrows. "But we should be taking advantage of it if it's a service that's guaranteed to us and we're not being deceived again."

During the months that it was discovered that the city was not disposing of recyclables, Burrows took it upon herself to make sure her household items were recycled properly.

"I know the temptation to just not recycle, and the frustration with this was definitely a real thing. I personally took all of our recycle to  Smurfit Kappa Recycling off of 271," Burrows said. "I know that a lot of people didn't think it was fair to expect us to do this when we've been paying for it, and we should expect this service from the city."

The recycling charge is built into Fort Smith residents trash fee, and city leaders said there are no plans to raise the rates.

According to a press release, the city will continue to look for a solution that will ultimately make Fort Smith money.