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The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment will receive a federal grant of $300,000 to improve the state’s recycling data and update its solid waste management plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and an Arkansas department spokesman recently said.

The grant is among tens of millions of dollars that will support recycling infrastructure and planning throughout the country, equipping recycling sorting facilities, running composting and anaerobic digestion operations and meeting other needs.

In Arkansas’ case, the grant will cover field research, surveys and other efforts to develop and strengthen recycling data collection in the state and determine how many people can access existing recycling programs, said Tony Lenahan, the Department of Energy and Environment public information coordinator.

Data collection has been an NWA Recycles priority since the program began in 2021, with two annual reports so far tallying up Northwest Arkansas’ recycling collections. These reports were the first to pull data from dozens of cities, waste districts and other organizations into one place, giving the clearest picture yet of how much is and isn’t recycled in Benton, Washington and Madison counties.

Making long-term plans and improvements for the region’s recycling is possible only with this kind of information in hand, and it’s often difficult to find. The state’s recycling reports haven’t been updated since 2017. With this new EPA grant, data could become easier for citizens, elected officials and others to use. Ultimately, more recycling can happen.