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DECATUR -- The takeover of the city's recycling program topped the City Council's Oct. 5 meeting at the city hall.

On Sept. 4, the Benton County Solid Waste District discontinued its free solid waste recycling program to several area cities, including Decatur, due to significant loss of revenue. The district did loan a pair of trailers, enabling Decatur to continue its program.

Mayor Bob Tharp was able to work out a deal with Marck Recycling to take the city's recyclable products. The catch is that the city would have to deliver it to Marck's recycling facility near Avoca.

Tharp reported to the council that the program is working well so far, but that it hit a few snags that threaten to shut down the free to the public service if a solution is not found, and soon.

The first problem that threatens the program is that people are not dumping their recyclable products in the right bins.

The city is set up to receive cardboard in its big yellow receiving trailer and mixed paper, aluminum cans, metal cans, clear plastic bottles and color plastic bottles in the other trailer. One problem the city encountered is that people are dumping trash and paper bags in with their dropped off products. This presents a big problem for Marck in that they have to sort the bins by hand, costing the company time and revenue.

One solution the council devised was to make much bigger signs than the ones on each bin. In addition to the signs, the council recommended the city add a pair of cameras which will be monitored in the water department office at the city hall.

Then Tharp presented a much bigger problem to the council that, if not fixed soon, will shut down the program -- glass.

Most, if not all, area recycling programs will not accept glass jars and bottles. All these programs cite the cost and the dangers glass poses to its employees and the public in general.

On average, it costs anywhere between $70 and $90 a ton to process glass waste, which in turn is sold for around $10 a ton, making it a losing venture since the byproducts are more common in nature than some of the other recyclable goods like paper and plastic.

The other reason for the lack of glass recycling is related to the danger dumping broken glass from bins poses to workers and the public. When a bin is dumped in a truck, the glass jars and bottles often break, causing flying debris that could injure anybody around the vehicle. Plus any of this debris could litter the ground and pose another threat of injury to anyone walking in the area.

So the council is asking Decatur area residents for their help in dealing with both of these issues. If not, the program will face shutdown and residents will be forced to take their recyclables elsewhere.

Make sure to put the right product in the right bin. The signs will tell the public what product is acceptable. And, do not dump plastic or paper bags in the bins. Most importantly, reuse glass products or throw them away in the regular garbage. Glass jars can be reused as storage containers for such items as buttons, nuts, bolts and nails. They can also be decorated and used as ornaments around the house or office or simply given as gifts.

Together, Decatur residents can help the city continue to offer free recycling. For more information, contact the city clerk's office at (479) 752-3912.

Mike Eckels may be reached by email at


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