- Nearly half of all solid waste in Arkansas in fiscal 2015 was recycled, up from 39% in 2014, and 35% in 2013, according to a report from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. The increase is despite declining value of certain recyclable materials as their weight decreases with improved technologies.
- Increases in the recycling of steel and iron comprise most of the recycling rate increase.
- The volume of landfill waste increased too, though slowly; in fiscal 2014, 6.5 billion pounds were discarded on landfills, compared with 6.8 billion pounds in fiscal 2015, according to the report.
Arkansas’ Department of Environmental Quality officials speculate reasons for the upswing in recycling, citing that more businesses are reporting their efforts in this area. In Little Rock, residents living in apartment complexes with at least 100 units are required to recycle. That city is keeping the momentum going on its own, with events like its RecycleART contest.
The trend is happening despite economic incentive in some cases, as demonstrated in that more plastic was recycled in 2015 than 2014, although working with nonrecyclable materials can be cheaper than recyclable plastic since the oil used to produce it costs less.
But even in the absence of high profit, this pattern does not surprise Robert Phelps, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission and Arkansas Recycling Coalition board member. "We never get into recycling as a commodity. What we're trying to do is encourage people to utilize it as a waste reduction manager."