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story.lead_photo.caption Whitney Reuschling, recycling coordinator for Conway’s sanitation department, discusses items that have been submitted for recycling. She said employees first sort out items that are clearly not recyclable, such as plastic grocery bags and potato-chip bags. Following this initial sorting, the items go through a series of additional sorting procedures with items not accepted for recycling taken to the city’s landfill. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

— ’Tis the season when many homes can be found with packages wrapped in colorful paper, tied up with ribbons and bows, sitting under the Christmas tree. But what happens to those colorful decorations once the gifts are unwrapped?

Unfortunately, many of those wrappings end up in the blue recycling cart, and that’s “a no-no,” said Whitney Reuschling, recycling coordinator for the city of Conway’s sanitation department.

“Wrapping paper is not recyclable due to the foil, glitter, tape and waxy coating,” Reuschling said. “Bows are not recyclable, either.

“Tissue paper, uncoated and without glitter, is accepted in our recycling stream,” she said. “Any color and basic printed ink is fine.”

When asked if Christmas cards are recyclable, she said, “Basic cardstock greetings and matte-finish photo cards are accepted. Just be sure there is nothing sticky, velvety, glittery or metallic attached.”

Reuschling said one of the main questions she hears is, “Can you recycle plastic shopping bags?”

Her answer: “No.

“That includes trash, sandwich and produce bags,” she said.

“Take those plastic shopping bags back to the store for them to recycle,” said Adam Robinson, facility manager.

Reuschling said the MFR does accept mixed paper, which includes newspaper, magazines, catalogs, junk mail and phone books, for recycling.

“We also accept cardboard boxes, which should be flattened and placed next to the recycle cart if they are too big to fit inside it. We accept cereal boxes, but be sure to remove the plastic bag that is inside those empty cereal boxes. We accept aluminum and steel cans … no aerosol, and rinse them out before putting them in the blue cart.”

Reuschling said some plastic items can be recycled.

“If they have the labels No. 1 or No. 2 on the bottom of them, they are OK,” she said.

The sanitation department also accepts shredded paper for recycling.

“The shredded paper must be bagged separately in transparent bags,” she said. Also acceptable for recycling is Styrofoam, which must be clean, dry and also bagged separately.

“Only white beaded Styrofoam is accepted,” she said, adding, “the kind that flakes off.. …

“And those egg cartons that look like Styrofoam are not acceptable,” she said. “If your eggs come in the brown cartons, those are most likely made of cardboard and are acceptable.”

Reuschling said some people use large white or black plastic trash bags or smaller plastic shopping bags to collect their recycled materials in, then place those bags in the recycle cart. She said that is not acceptable.

“Place the items loose in the cart,” she said. “Or use a clear bag.”

The Conway facility also accepts glass of all colors for recycling.

“Labels and lids are acceptable, too,” she said. “But the glass has to go into a separate cart …. Call us, and we will deliver the glass recycling cart to your home.”

Glass is collected curbside on regular trash pickup days.

Reuschling said a recent change in the recycling program went into effect in March. The department will no longer accept plastic labeled No. 3

through No. 7. According to information found on the sanitation department’s website,, No. 3 plastics include vinyl and auto products; No. 4, laundry baskets, bread bags and plastic film; No. 5, yogurt containers, straws and amber-colored pill bottles; No. 6, Styrofoam cups, egg cartons and to-go containers; and No. 7, toys, sippy cups, CDs and DVDs and lenses.

The department also posted an updated list of accepted items on the department’s website.

“When people ask, ‘What’s the value of recycling?’ I answer, ‘First, it’s the right thing to do,’” Reuschling said. “Plus, it is saving space in our landfill.”

Reuschling said another place to recycle items is the Conway Reuse Center at the department of sanitation complex, 4550 U.S. 64 W.

For more information about recycling in Conway, or to schedule a Smart Recycling presentation, call (501) 450-6155. Information is also available on Facebook and Twitter.


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