Fort Smith Board weighs recycling options, decides to continue negotiations

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 854 views 

The Fort Smith Board of Directors decided not to move forward with any one single-stream recycling proposal at Tuesday night’s (May 23) study session from the Fort Smith Convention Center, instead directing city administration to continue negotiations with vendors MARCK Industries and Third Rock Recycling.

Following negotiations, administration will bring its recommendation to the Board at the June 6 regular meeting. The Third Rock Recycling is the “preferred” choice among city officials, but the Board felt there was room for improvement and was at a consensus the city did not need to jump into an agreement for the sake of speed.

Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman brought the proposals before the Board, commending Third Rock for showing “they are willing to invest in Fort Smith and its recycling program” – an investment that would “provide both a short-term solution to the immediate need of finding a place to take our household recyclable material, as well as a long-term solution that will lead to sorting the material locally.”

Under the Third Rock plan, the short-term solution would begin in “2-12 weeks,” Dingman wrote in a Tuesday memo. It would involve Third Rock securing a local facility and installing its own industrial baling machine. Until a facility is located, the city would deliver its recyclable material to a processing facility in Fayetteville at a cost of around $160 per trip.

Once the baling machine is installed and operable at the local facility, Fort Smith recycling trucks would deliver material there, where it would become property of Third Rock, who would bale it and transport out to a processing facility at no further charge to the city. Meanwhile, the city and Third Rock would install a single-stream recyclables processing machine at the facility. It would take around one year to identify specifications, purchase, and install the machine, Dingman said, noting this would be the “long-term solution.”

“Recyclable materials are far more valuable once they have been sorted and baled, so when the sort line becomes operable in the local facility, the economics will shift from the city paying Third Rock four cents per pound for taking the material, to Third Rock paying the city 1/2-cent per pound for bringing the material to them. Then the material belongs to them, and they sort it and sell it,” Dingman said.

In purchasing the single-stream sorting machine, Dingman said Third Rock would work with the city if the city wanted to ultimately own the machine for installing into its own material recovery facility (MRF) should it decide to build one in the future.

The Third Rock plan would result in three-year net proceeds of $97,666.85 for the city compared to MARCK’s plan showing a loss of $245,874.19 during the same period.

The city of Fort Smith lost its recycling center contract with Smurfit KAPPA on Sept. 30, 2014. Until June 27, 2016, it transported recycling materials to the Clarksville, Ark.-based Green Source Recycling Center under an informal agreement at no charge beyond the cost to transport. From October 2014-Present, it has disposed of approximately 91.33% (an estimated 7,916.14 tons) of all recycling at Fort Smith Landfill.

It was revealed Tuesday in a report by Talk Business & Politics that state officials are investigating how the city handled reporting of sending recycling materials to the landfill. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) director has confirmed there is a “review and investigation” to see if funding mechanisms available to the city of Fort Smith under its recycling program were properly used in light of recent revelations the city sent more than 90% of its recycled materials to the Fort Smith Landfill from October 2014-Present.