Fort Smith — Fort Smith residents’ recycling has been going to a landfill and not to a recycling center since November, the city administrator confirmed Monday.
Residents who recycle do not pay an additional fee on top of what they pay for sanitation, City Administrator Carl Geffken said.
Recycling services are included in the $13.28 plus tax monthly solid waste disposal fee, according to a news release.
Geffken said he did not know off the top of his head Monday evening how much it costs to run the recycling trucks, which have been collecting recycling, despite not taking the items to a recycling center.
“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 presorted paper and cardboard,” according to the news release. “As no local vendors were available to offer single-stream processing services at that 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 than the city’s cost to transport the material.”
The release continues, “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. Mark Schlievert, director of sanitation since April of 2016, developed a request for proposals for single-stream recycling services in October 2016, due by the end of the year. By early November, Green Source closed its single-stream processing line. With no vendor accepting recyclables, the city chose to dispose of such material in the landfill until the city could secure a recycling processing contract.”
In the meantime, the city has been looking for a long-term solution and a short-term solution that does not affect the budget, Geffken said.
“There’s no recycling around here that will not cost the city of Fort Smith to a significant amount of money to continue recycling,” he said.
Residents were not notified that their recycling was no longer being recycled, Geffken said.
“Hoping that this would be settled in two to three months, I did not want to ask people to stop recycling to have them start again,” he said. “Once that ball is rolling and people are doing the right thing, I don’t want them to stop. Now, granted, were we putting it all in the landfill? Yes, we were. I’m not going to deny that.”
Geffken said he did not want to ask residents to stop their recycling habits while the city was putting recycling in the landfill and looking for a solution and that, if he had, it still would have had to go the landfill.
“If there are residents who are upset because of that, I apologize,” Geffken said.
The goal is to continue not to charge residents an extra fee for recycling, he said. The city has been negotiating with MARCK Industries for several months.
“Our sanitation director has spoke with MARCK and also has just contacted the other municipalities to see if they would like to meet to talk about setting up our own recycling facility,” Geffken said.