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Thousands of Northwest Arkansas residents who responded to a survey about the region’s infrastructure said recycling and reducing waste should be among our top priorities.

The Northwest Arkansas Council, a regional nonprofit whose programs include NWA Recycles, conducted the survey from Feb. 15 to March 25 to inform the work of its Infrastructure Work Group. More than 4,000 people responded, giving their opinions about such topics as highway construction, water quality, electric vehicles and broadband.

The highest priority went to protecting the region’s lakes and streams, while keeping up with needed highway infrastructure came second. But recycling was a close third, a remarkable showing for an area the 32-year-old Council has been focusing on since just last year. Four out of five respondents said they’d be willing to take steps to recycle more and create less waste, while three out of five said it’s confusing to figure out what their local program accepts.

These are some of the exact reasons that the Council launched NWA Recycles in 2021 with financial support from Walmart. This blog and our “How do I recycle?” and Resources pages are here to demystify the inner workings of recycling and help you find the recycling opportunities in your community. You can also share your new recycling know-how with friends and family — or just point them back to this website.

The survey’s results will inform decisions by the work group, whose purpose is to help local governments and businesses tap into billions of dollars of federal money made available by last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Historically, the Northwest Arkansas Council has focused its work on water quality and quantity, highway construction, public transportation and supporting Northwest Arkansas National Airport administrators. Because there’s so much federal funding available in new areas, the work group aims to identify and pursue grants for such things as electric vehicle charging stations, broadband expansion and — you guessed it — recycling.

“The region’s rapid growth makes it critical for the Council to work to ensure that we’re doing everything possible as we pursue federal grants,” said Nelson Peacock, the Council’s president and CEO. “The survey confirmed many things we believed to be true but also provided some surprising insights.”

Click here for additional survey findings. Find out more about the Northwest Arkansas Council on its website.