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A new initiative aims to increase the number of restaurants, bars and liquor stores recycling glass in Northwest Arkansas.

The program, launched by the Northwest Arkansas Council in partnership with EPIC Glass Recycling of Little Rock, offers four months of free glass recycling to 50 businesses in Benton and Washington counties. Businesses interested in participating must sign up by Aug. 31.

About 50 Northwest Arkansas restaurants, bars, breweries, hotels and nonprofit organizations already work with EPIC to recycle glass, according to Courtney Little, EPIC’s president. Those are in addition to the business-focused glass recycling program operated by the city of Fayetteville which currently serves 46 participants.

Each business selected for the Council’s new NWA Recycles program will receive glass recycling bins that allow the material to be kept separate from other recyclables and trash. The glass will be collected at the businesses at least once a week. Additional collections may be necessary based on volume.

EPIC transports the glass to Little Rock where it will be turned into ultra-lightweight foamed glass aggregate – a sustainable material made from 99% recycled glass. This offers an eco-friendly solution for various construction needs. Its benefits include being 85 to 90% lighter than traditional aggregates, excellent insulation properties, and a high friction angle, making it ideal for reducing the cost and environmental impact of road construction and building projects.

NWA Recycles is a program of the Northwest Arkansas Council with goals focused on keeping recyclable materials such as glass, food waste, plastics and paper from reaching area landfills.

“This glass initiative can ramp up what I personally want to see achieved in our community and throughout Northwest Arkansas when it comes to glass,” said Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse, who is the chairman of the Boston Mountain Solid Waste District. “EPIC is the right partner, and it’s able to make glass recycling easy and affordable for the businesses that participate.”

Restaurants and bars will focus entirely on the empty bottles and jars created by consumption inside the businesses. Collection bins at liquor stores, meanwhile, will serve as glass drop-off centers, allowing customers to bring empty bottles back when they return to the stores.

“Glass is one of the easiest items to recycle because it can be endlessly recycled with no loss of quality,” said Lee Chalmers, NWA Recycles coordinator. “As we work to advance recycling in the region, we hope the selected businesses will continue recycling glass beyond the initial four months to keep it out of the landfill.”

Business owners and managers interested in joining the initiative should express interest by Aug. 31.