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This website devotes a lot of space to the differences among Northwest Arkansas’ numerous recycling programs. Inconsistencies in whether glass can be recycled, how curbside recycling works and other details are a big reason behind this website and NWA Recycles itself. This post isn’t about them, though. This time we’re highlighting what these programs have in common — the stuff you can recycle in any community program. Remember these things: metal cans, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes.

  • Metal cans: The metal in cans for soda, beer, soup and beans can be melted down and remade forever and still be in usable condition (cardboard fibers and plastic molecules can’t say the same). Be sure to rinse them out.
  • Plastic bottles: Soda bottles, water bottles, milk jugs, anything that has a neck and a cap and is marked #1 or #2 on the bottom. Note that lots of plastic containers are NOT bottles — bins, tubs, cups and so on. Those simply cannot go into NWA’s current systems; only bottles. Give these a rinse, too.
  • Cardboard boxes: Many local programs collect more cardboard than every other material combined, and it’s an important source of their sustaining income. Flattening the boxes is helpful for processing.

These rules of thumb apply to any program that comes to your house and picks up recyclables, as well as at any drop-off center that’s run by a city, waste district or, in Bella Vista‘s case, a community nonprofit.

Of course some of these programs also take other materials, depending on the city or the drop-off location. By all means, check your preferred program’s set of accepted materials and stick to it. But you can’t go wrong with metal cans, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. With these core recyclables, you can be confident wherever you are that the recycling system is doing its job.