FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Fort Smith city leaders said the recyclable materials that residents place on their curb has been dumped at the Fort Smith Landfill since July of 2016.
City leaders said the recyclable materials used to be shipped to a material recycling facility.
"The City of Fort Smith's most recent contract for taking its recyclables expired in September of 2014, when local vendor Smurfit KAPPA closed its single-stream processing and accepted only pre-sorted paper and cardboard. As no local vendors were available to offer single-stream processing services at the time, the materials were transported to Green Source Recycling Center in Clarksville for disposal. The Clarksville facility accepted the materials at no cost to the city, other that the city's cost to transport the material," read a press release from the city administrators desk.
It went on to say the company changed the process of receiving materials.
"Over time, Green Source reduced the amount of material it could take from Fort Smith, due in part to limits on the amount of material they could process according to their permit from ADEQ," the release read. "By early November Green Source closed it single-stream processing line. With no vendor accepting recyclables, the city shoe to dispose of such material in the landfill until the city could secure a recycling processing contract."
City leaders said they are now in the process of finding another location, but the problem may stretch all the way back to 2014 when Green Source began taking the city's recyclables. The recycling issue could be a three year process where recyclables weren't disposed of properly.
City Administrator Carl Geffken said the company slowly started reducing what it would take from the city. How much recyclables were not disposed of properly since 2014 he could not say.
Geffken said he wants residents to know that city leaders know that they should have told residents.
"I apologize for not telling, making the communication to the residents that we had stopped this while we were looking for a short and long term solution," he said.
Residents around Fort Smith have sounded off on the issue and said it is hard to believe the city would continue business as usual.
"There's a separate truck that comes around and gets the brown cans," said Fort Smith resident Travis Chaffey, who recycles every week into the brown labeled cans."I think it's ridiculous that they act like they are going around recycling when they are not."
Fort Smith city leaders said residents are not charged extra for recycling, but residents like Chaffey said his first recycling bin was free. The second one he uses costs him $5 extra a month he said. It's a cost he said he has continued to pay throughout this process.
To find a solution to the problem, city leaders offered this explanation in the release:
"The city continues to negotiate with MARCK Industries for a recycling services contract suitable to its needs, preferably without a need to charge users and additional fee. While continuing to negotiate a short-term solution, the city is also exploring the idea of building a MRF, perhaps at the Fort Smith Landfill or some other location, that is suitable for collecting and sorting comingled, single recyclable material.