- The Regional Recycling and Waste Reduction District in Arkansas' Pulaski County will begin using a "three-strike policy" to reduce curbside recycling contamination.
- Starting on June 6, residents of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood and other areas in the county will have their carts audited. Tags will be put on carts with any issues. After three tags, residents could face citations or removal of their carts.
- Items must be loose and cannot include food and yard waste, medical supplies such as needles, propane tanks, batteries, or electronics. These items reduce the value of other materials and also pose a hazard to employees at the local Waste Management material recovery facility.
The district switched to 65-gallon single-stream recycling carts in 2013, and claims to have since seen the recycling rate jump from 30% to 80%, including schools. Statewide diversion rates have also gone up in recent years. Other changes, such as expanding recycling to large multi-family buildings and offering prizes have boosted the program as well.
Yet increased participation brings more opportunities for error and some residents don't seem to understand how the recycling program works. A current pilot project led by the Recycling Partnership in Massachusetts is one of multiple efforts to understand why people miss the point and how to change their behavior. Whatever is behind the contamination, Arkansas officials say it has to stop.
"Contamination has reached an unsustainable level," said Executive Director John Roberts in a press statement. "When the contamination reaches this point, even good recyclable material must be sent to the landfill, which negates the positive efforts of the citizens who recycle properly."
Tagging carts, however, has been a source of contention in some areas of the country such as Seattle. In April, a Seattle judge ruled that inspections to check for organic waste in residential bins was deemed unconstitutional. Pulaski County will need to ensure that it is practicing fair and legal audits to keep all stakeholders happy with the program.