LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) along with Easter Seals Arkansas will mark America Recycles Day on Friday, Nov. 15 at the nonprofit's West Little Rock facility.
A press conference, which will also highlight the state of recycling in Arkansas and the recycling efforts of nonprofits, will start at 10 a.m. in the cafeteria. America Recycles Day is marked nationally as a way to encourage and promote recycling. Keep Arkansas Beautiful, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many others partner in the event.
Speakers at the press conference will include ADEQ Solid Waste Management Division Chief Ben Jones, who will discuss the state of recycling in Arkansas, and Sharon Moone-Jochums, the president and CEO of Easter Seals Arkansas, who will talk about her organization's recycling efforts. The non-profit's RENEW program employs adults with disabilities to collect, sort, shred and bale secure documents and cardboard. Easter Seals is also holding a community shred and food and recycling drive in conjunction with the Arkansas Foodbank in its parking lot from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day.
"Nonprofit organizations really help drive community recycling and they provide recycling opportunities in 33 counties across the state," Jones said.
At the press conference, Jones will discuss the 2013 State of Recycling in Arkansas, which covers July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
During that time, the state saw a recycling rate of 35.02 percent, down from 40.62 percent during the previous 12 months. A total of 1.8 million tons of recycling material from batteries (8,393 tons) to glass (3,513 tons) to paper (189,078 tons) and plastic (99,694 tons) was reported in the annual tally.
"The numbers tend to fluctuate from year to year," Jones said. "We always like to see them go up, but a number of factors go into the report and a decrease doesn't mean we're not diverting valuable resources from landfills."
In fact, the amount of waste sent to landfills dropped by nearly 100,000 tons from 2011 to 2012. The amount sent to landfills in 2011 was 3,518,294 tons. That number was 3,421,046 tons for 2012. (Those numbers are reported by calendar, not fiscal year.)
Another factor in the fluctuations: Only certain recycling facilities are required to submit recycling amounts. Businesses and many non-profits that may report large amounts do so voluntarily.
There were increases in various categories in the latest annual report. The amount of plastics recycled increased from 45,142 tons to 99,694 tons. The majority of that, 67,351 tons, was in a subcategory called low density polyethylene, the type of plastic used to make pipes for irrigation. One company accounted for 99 percent of the poly pipe reported as recycled.
The report also details the department's recycling grants and e-waste programs. In 2013, ADEQ approved 95 electronics recycling grants distributing $2.5 million through the 18 regional solid waste management districts in the state. Nearly $4 million was awarded to 131 projects around the state in the 2012 recycling grant round. (The money was disbursed in FY2013.)
Recycling grants were awarded in a number of categories including waste reduction activities, composting, material recovery, recycling equipment and more.
To learn more about America Recycles Day visit http://americarecyclesday.org/.