A new grant from the Walmart Foundation to the Northwest Arkansas Council will support an expanded regional effort to slow the flow of recyclable materials going into landfills. The Council will also work to improve collaboration and strategic planning with the region’s businesses, cities and regional recyclers to achieve measurable goals.
The grant supports NWA Recycles, a program created by the Council in 2021 to strengthen Northwest Arkansas’ circular economy.
The Council works closely with the Boston Mountain and Benton County solid waste districts on efforts to recycle more and waste less. This partnership led to the creation of the NWA Recycles website, an annual report about how much material is recycled in the region, and quarterly stakeholder meetings attended by mayors and other community leaders interested in recycling more.
“The people who work in recycling for cities, the solid waste districts and companies in Northwest Arkansas want to do more, and it’s been great to see them come together and share challenges and ideas,” said Nelson Peacock, the Northwest Arkansas Council president and CEO. “What’s new with this grant is an effort to conduct material tracking in the region’s landfills. With our landfill space in Northwest Arkansas and in neighboring regions becoming more limited by the day, we must do more to preserve landfill space for waste that truly needs to be buried.”
In October, the Council convened around 40 community leaders and recyclers to identify measurable goals for the recyclable materials that can be captured. The event led to the creation of small teams of recyclers that will work throughout 2024 to achieve measurable goals. Several teams will work to:
- Explore and implement a program focused on collecting more glass in cities.
- Prevent hundreds of mattresses from reaching landfills.
- Help Northwest Arkansas school districts recycle food waste produced in their cafeterias.
- Increase public knowledge about capturing food waste at home and at work. Private composting companies in the region are willing to come to homes and businesses each week for a fee to collect food waste and convert it to compost.
- Expand the availability of recycling to more people by determining if offering financial or other incentives to rural trash haulers can convince them to expand the availability of recycling in the region’s rural areas (many rural haulers don’t offer recycling to their customers as part of the services they do provide).
- Coordinate with organizers of town festivals, fairs, concerts, parades and other large community events to make recycling available to the hundreds or thousands of attendees.
All the teams will track their impact and report their achievements at the end of the year.
To learn more about NWA Recycles, visit nwarecycles.org.