The board of Keep Little Rock Beautiful has issued a plea that the city continue curbside recycling.

Of course they are right, philosophically for certain. But it’s not an easy sell.

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The KLRB Statement:

The Keep Little Rock Beautiful Board strongly urges each of you to vote in favor of the Waste Management recycling contract currently before you. Recycling is an important part of a sustainable and progressive city. There is currently a 70% participation rate in the residential curbside recycling program in Little Rock, showing that our residents are environmentally conscious and desire this service.

 

Eliminating recycling in a city of our size would do detrimental damage to not only our landfill and our reputation, but also to our citizenry. It would reverse years of educational effort that has driven consumer action to such a high participation rate in the curbside recycling program. If recycling were eliminated completely and revisited years down the road as suggested during a recent city board discussion, the cost to re-educate the population to the point of 70% recycling participation would be great.

 

Keep Little Rock Beautiful (KLRB), a nonprofit 501©(3) organization founded in 2005 by a group of individuals passionate about the environmental quality of life in their hometown, understands there is controversy surrounding inclusion of glass in the single-stream recycling program. Our board members believe the proposed contract is a cost-effective way to recycle glass. We believe that Waste Management’s single stream proposal is the best option for Little Rock residents at this time.

 

As you know, recycling benefits go beyond prolonging the lifetime of the landfill. It conserves natural resources, reduces water pollution, helps reduce climate pollution and global warming, saves energy, and reduces the use of toxic chemicals. Recycling increases economic security by tapping domestic sourced materials for American manufacturing. And, it creates jobs.

 

KLRB empowers and works with Little Rock residents and business owners to prevent litter, recycle waste, and beautify where we all live, work, and play. We respectfully ask you to vote in a way that propels our city forward as the sustainable and progressive city it is, and not vote us years backwards by eliminating recycling.

 

Sincerely,

Keep Little Rock Beautiful board members:

Tim Heiple, KLRB Chairman | Heipel + Wiedower Architects
Melinda Glasgow, KLRB Executive Director | City of Little Rock
Suzanne Smith Hirrel, KLRB Vice Chair andLitter Prevention Committee Chair | LEP Arkansas LLC Environmental Educator
Clay Glasgow, KLRB Treasurer| Hogan-Taylor
Norm Berner, KLRB Public Awareness Committee Chair | Friends of Fourche Creek
Chelsea Boozer | Central Arkansas Water
La’Kesha Stewart | Metroplan
Susan Altrui | Little Rock Zoo
Stephanie Lopez, KLRB Beautification Committee Chair | Keller Williams Realty | Realtor
Brian Pipkin | Mitchell Law Firm
Chris Ford, KLRB Recycling Committee Chair | First Security Bank
Amy Westlake | The Peacock Group

Problems: It is NOT just about recycling glass, which currently isn’t done. Check the city website for the long list of things that may not go into what was sold as single-stream recycling. It’s long and daunting. It includes: potato chip sacks, clothes hangers, paper towels, to-go food containers, coffee cups, plastic bags and utensils and more.

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You can still recycle newspapers. But guess what? There’s comparatively little of that around Arkansas anymore.

Then there’s cost. It keeps going up for what has been less service. And then there’s the lingering suspicion that the stuff is so contaminated by careless tossers that it’s winding up in a dump anyway.

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The city board just delayed a three-year contract renewal with Waste Management. To keep the business, it says it will take glass again, though it is expensive has no market for it, and also will take certain food and beverage containers (think juice boxes) now excluded.

But you’ll pay for the privilege. The current charge of $4.27 a month for a single recycling bin will rise in the first year to $5.39. That’s an increase of $1.08, or more than 25 percent. TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT? You got a 25 percent cost of living raise this year, didn’t you? Then it rises to $5.58 the second year and then $5.78 the third year, a whopping 35 percent more than where you started out.

Waste Management has PR support aplenty to explain how this is a reasonable rate increase, how difficult marketing recycled materials has become and so on. Every advanced country I’ve visited, and some not so advanced, recycle. Many require more careful sorting than we do in Little Rock. But I can also understand the pushback.

 

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