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Thousands of tons of Northwest Arkansas recyclables are buried in landfills every year, but sustainability-focused companies are well-positioned to curtail some of that wastefulness.

If they can attract new customers (and capture more recyclables), they’ll help keep landfill space for what’s truly trash.

That space preservation and the need for the region to vastly increase how much it recycles is why NWA Recycles, an arm of the Northwest Arkansas Council, wants to draw attention to a group of companies that advance the region’s sustainability. The businesses and their new customers improve sustainability, create jobs and advance Northwest Arkansas’ circular economy.

How you can help

You, of course, are perfect at recycling, but let us tell you about everyone else.

The U.S. EPA says just 7% of Americans recycled in 1960, and it’s grown to 32% today.

It’s probable that Arkansas doesn’t hit that 32% mark.

A 2021 report said Arkansas ranked 42nd among the 50 states when it comes to its recycling rate. The report said the Arkansas rate was near 28%.

As long as the Northwest Arkansas rate is near that statewide average, it suggests 400,000 of the region’s 575,000 residents aren’t recyclers. While some NWA cities have good recycling programs, other cities do little to advance recycling. Recycling is especially difficult in rural areas where the majority of trash haulers don’t offer a recycling option.

The region needs more people to start recycling, of course, but it also needs the people and companies that already recycle to look for new recycling opportunities.

With that in mind, NWA Recycles is sharing information about companies advancing sustainability in the region, hoping you’ll consider doing business with them because of the long-term benefits to the region.

Below is a breakdown of services, categorized by customer type, detailing the services provided to residents, businesses, schools, and event organizers.

Services for Residents

Ozark Compost & Swap. Thousands of tons of food waste are buried in landfills used by Northwest Arkansas trash haulers, and Ozark Compost & Swap gives that wasted food a better purpose. The company collects the food waste generated in homes and businesses and provides its services in most Northwest Arkansas cities. Homeowners (and renters, too) receive five-gallon buckets to collect food waste, and OCS hauls the filled-up buckets away for a monthly fee. The material is consumed by more than 1 million worms at a facility in Gravette, and it eventually becomes a nutrient rich soil amendment. Bonus points: OCS offers a one-month free trial, and it delivers Airship Coffee to its customers’ homes. Contact OCS at this link.

Free Geek of Arkansas. Free Geek is a nonprofit organization that accepts used electronics and e-waste at 521 W. Ash Street in Fayetteville. It’s open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Free Geek sells refurbished computers and other electronics, and it offers computer repair services. Any electronics that can’t be put back into use or sold are recycled (76 tons recycled in 2023). The primary charitable and educational purposes of Free Geek are to reuse/recycle technology and provide access to computers, the internet, education and job skills through volunteering. Reach Free Geek at this link.

eSCO Processing and Recycling. Founded in 2009, eSCO provides electronics recycling and IT data destruction. eSCO prides itself on providing customized programs for all e-waste streams in compliance with its own zero-landfill electronic waste policy. The company, which processes about 2 million pounds of electrics each month and has facilities in Rogers, Little Rock and Springfield, Mo., disassembles or refurbishes all e-waste that enters its facilities. Contact eSCO at this link.

Services for Businesses and Schools

Ace Glass/EPIC Glass Recycling. Based in Little Rock, Ace Glass installs the glazed glass in big buildings across Northwest Arkansas, including the Highlands Oncology building in Springdale and the J.B. Hunt  headquarters in Lowell. Its nonprofit arm — EPIC Glass Recycling — aims to gather up and reuse glass that’s generated in restaurants, bars and other businesses across Arkansas. The glass collected in NWA (for a fee) is turned into an aggregate that can be used in construction projects. Contact EPIC Glass at this link.

Denali. Founded in 2012 in Russellville, Denali is the largest company in the U.S. focused exclusively on organic waste recycling and a leader in the burgeoning circular economy.  The company works with grocery stores, food processors, restaurants and other businesses to divert organic waste from landfills toward beneficial reuse activities. It turns food waste into compost, fertilizer, renewable fuel and livestock feed. Denali serves customers throughout Arkansas. Contact Denali at this link.

Food Recycling Solutions. Founded in 2019, Food Recycling Solutions focuses solely on diverting food scraps and organics from landfills so the material it collected can be used to create high-nutrient compost for gardeners and farmers. The company provides service to any facility that generates food waste, including grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias, hotels, hospitals and one-time events. The company provide collection carts, signage, education and expert guidance to help any facility achieve its own sustainability goals. The FRS team can be reached at this link.

Services for Event Organizers

Some cities require festivals, fairs and large events to collect recyclables, but that’s not the norm in Northwest Arkansas.

Without the requirement, event organizers must decide whether to recycle with their own dedicated volunteers, to hire a company to handle the recycling, or to skip recycling entirely. NWA Recycles, of course, favors recycling, and it’s created a roadmap to help event organizers go about deciding what they should do.

Food Loops. Based in Rogers, Food Loops partners with many of the region’s largest event organizers to ensure that food waste, plastic, glass, cardboard, and other materials are recycled. Its fees are based on several factors, including the number of people expected to attend an event and which materials are being recycled. Contact Food Loops at this link.