City of Siloam Springs

Your Recycling Questions Answered

We've had a number of residents recently reach out to the Sanitation Division for some more information about our Recycling Program. We thought we'd share this great information with everyone.

Here are the questions that were asked and our answers below.
1. How much does recycling cost the city?
2. What is the cost increase to take more items (different types of plastic, glass, et.) and/or providing more locations for drop-off?
3. How well informed do you think the residents of Siloam are about the recycling program?
4. Where would that information be located/is it accessible?
5. How many people participate in recycling?

The City feels that over the past few years we have made strides in the community which will hopefully continue to have a positive impact on our environment.

1. The total cost of the recycling program yearly includes salaries and benefits for three dedicated recycle truck websizeemployees and fuel costs. Those ongoing yearly costs are approximately $115, 427. Of course fuel costs will fluctuate with oil and market prices, although we do reduce our costs by buying fuel in bulk for reduced prices. Additionally, last year we purchased a new recycling truck for $130,000.
But let's not just look at the cost of the recycling program. Let's also view the program for what it saves the City. In lieu of taking recyclables to the landfill, we save $107,797 annually. We also work with a broker to sell those recyclables with a revenue of $68,739. Therefore, we save the City $176,536.

2. The cost to increase to take more items is a bit more difficult to answer. Currently, the items we collect for the recycling program are the only ones there is a market for. Plastics #3-#7s are not being recycled like #1s and #2s. With that being said, there are some options for us to not send #3-#7s to the landfill. However it is important to keep in mind the City would be spending more on recycling than it would be saving the community.
There is a company in Tulsa called Covanta that takes waste items and concerts them to renewable energy. However, there are some challenges there- we would have extra fuel costs and labor costs and the renewable energy does not come back into our community. That renewable energy is sold to Public Service Company of Oklahoma. However, on a more regular basis, the steam is sold to Holly Frontier, Inc. (an independent refiner), adjacent to the facility, and used in the refining process.

Sanitation staff has looked into additional drop off centers but again there are some challenges with additional "drops". If these are unmanned they tend to become contaminated quickly- meaning that everyone is not well trained or conscientious about their recycled drop off items. Trash tends to get into the stream. The cleanest way to recycle is the current method with curbside recycling. That way a recycling collector goes through each recycling container by hand and sorts the items at the curb. Items that are not recyclable are left in the recycling bin with a note stating this. Residents do not have to pay an extra fee to participate the curbside recycling program.

The reason why we don't have curbside glass recycling is for the safety of our recycling collectors. Glass is very sharp can cut the hands of the collector when sorting through the recycle bin. It also breaks into small pieces which would easily contaminate the paper.

3. Being well informed is a difficult item to measure. We have worked with the Adult Development Center (who bales our plastics) and they have reported to have seen a slight increase in bale numbers since the transition to once-a-week automatic trash collection in September 2015. Almost 500 additional recycling bins were picked up from the Sanitation Department with that transition. Sanitation Superintendent Don Tennison and Communications Manager Holland Hayden also conducted training with some Civic groups on the recycling process. Admittedly, there is still much work to do in educating the residents and business owners of Siloam Springs. Any ideas or assistance in this area is very much appreciated as we am always looking for unique ways to increase messaging. The biggest advocate in the recycling program is seeing the red bins out throughout the City. Most residents recognize what they are and that it is a free service. Again, this messaging is something that can always be improved.
Our Sanitation employees spend many hours per week educating and speaking with residents about the recycling program, usually in a one-on-one format. They are always eager and willing to answer questions.

4. Information about our recycling program is available on the City website at which is on the Sanitation Division page. Residents can also call the Sanitation Division at 479-524-8512 with any questions or for additional information.

5. There are currently about 4,700 residential trash customers in the City and it is estimated that approximately 50% of those customers recycle.



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