Texarkana is getting greener thanks to new recycling center

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Because of a state grant that funded a new recycling facility at 2601 Dudley St., the City of Texarkana, Ark., will open a new recycling center Monday, Aug. 11.

Brandy Chewning
Brandy Chewning

“This is a day we’ve been working toward for months,” said Brandy Chewning, the city’s recycling coordinator. “This is a major step in making recycling more accessible for our residents.”

The center will provide a drop site for recyclable material from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. “This is not going to operate like Green Texarkana, the monthly recycling event we’ve held for years,” she said. “At the recycling center, items will have to be separated when they are brought in, and we won’t be accepting every material. We are starting with what we think we can manage and, hopefully, we can grow in the future.”

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Items accepted will include paper, cardboard, ink and toner cartridges, plastic grocery bags, metal cans and plastics. All items must be separated, including steel and aluminum cans. Plastics accepted will include Nos. 1 and 2 — plastic bottles and jugs with necks smaller than the body.

“Plastic is without a doubt one of the most confusing recyclable items,” Chewning said. “We are starting small on the plastics but hoping to catch the most common ones like shampoo and detergent bottles, milk jugs and soda bottles.”

Plastic also should be divided by color — clear plastic such as soda and water bottles, and colored plastic such as milk jugs and detergent bottles.

The city will continue to host Green Texarkana on the second Saturday of each month, and other household plastics such as yogurt cartons, storage containers and butter tubs will also be accepted there.

Chewning cautioned that as the recycling market changes what will be accepted at the center may also change. So, plan for that.

“I apologize for that already because the goal is not to add confusion or create burden on recyclers but to provide the cleanest material we can to the industries that will recycle this material,” Chewning said. “As buyers change what they want, we will have to change what we give them. It’s going to be a learning process, but it’s a challenge we are excited to take on.”

Residents wanting to recycle should enter the City Shop gate on Dudley Street and immediately turn left. The recycling center will be visible and blue carts will be placed along the building front, labeled for each material. A circle drive is in place to help residents exit.

“Safety is a primary concern and we want to encourage all our visitors to be alert,” Chewning said. “They will be coming into a yard with employees walking around and vehicles and heavy equipment being moved. We just ask that everyone drive slowly and use caution.”

Chewning said she hopes the recycling center helps the city to continue to make a positive impact on the environment. Through its Green Texarkana efforts last year, the city recycled more than 92 tons of material.

“The city’s recycling numbers have been strong in the past, especially considering the limited program we had. We hope through this expansion we will see recycling numbers continue to go up, and the amount we throw away go down,” Chewning said.

But they are starting the program on the conservative side by only taking the materials now that they are confident they can handle. Becoming a full-service recycling center, by someday accepting all materials residents wish to recycle, may be something the facility does in the long run.

“Along with growing the program, we hope to see it become self-sustaining in the future. The State of Arkansas has been generous in its support of our goals and we’ve received several grants to get us started, but the goal is to bring in revenue through the program so that the facility can operate on its own,” she said.

And why can’t the recycling facility handle all recyclables? Well, there are reasons for that, Chewning said.

“People often don’t understand why we can’t accept every item for recycling, such as glass or higher numbers in plastics. The reasons vary, but most commonly it is because we have limited space at the center, staff doesn’t have the necessary training to handle certain items such as hazardous waste, or we don’t have a market in place to accept the items. The Texarkana, Ark., Recycling Center is responsible for taking in material, ensuring it is sorted, then baling, storing and eventually selling it. We are not actually recycling the material into another product on site so we have to find a buyer who wants it. It takes time to build those partnerships and sometimes the market is just not right for it. If the price of a material is really low, a buyer is not going to want to drive from Houston or Baton Rouge, La., to pick it up,” she explained.

For more information about the recycling center visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TexarkanaArkansasRecycling.

Staff also will be on-site as much as possible to assist recyclers with learning the process and in helping with dropping off material. Questions are welcome by calling the recycling center at 870-779-4946 or by emailing Chewning at brandy.chewning@txkusa.org.

 

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