Fayetteville curbside recycling pickup limited because of driver shortage

City: Driver shortage means it’s likely some recyclables won’t be picked up

Fayetteville recycling bins are visible March 19, 2020, in the Park Meadows area of Fayetteville. Curbside recycling pickup will be limited starting Monday because of a shortage of recycling truck drivers. (File photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Some residents may not have their recycling picked up starting next week.

The city is experiencing a recycling truck driver shortage, according to a city news release Thursday. As a result, some residences with curbside service for the 18-gallon green bins may not have them picked up beginning Monday.

Commercial recycling, yard waste, and commercial and residential trash service will not be impacted, the release says.

The city has 10 unfilled recycling driver positions, said Brian Pugh, the city's waste reduction manager. Two more drivers are out because of injury. There are 59 total driver positions, leaving the city with 47 active drivers. Within the 59 positions, there are six relief drivers who have been working full-time, he said.

Recycling truck drivers must have a Commercial Driver's License. The city typically pays drivers with that certification less than private companies, and many have left for other job opportunities, Pugh said. A job listing on the city's website says pay range for a driver is $34,777 to $51,979 annually. The average CDL driver in Arkansas makes $63,170 annually, according to Talent.com, a national job-searching website.

Residents can still put out their recycling on their usual days. If the bin is not picked up, Pugh recommended either waiting until the following week or dropping the materials off at one of the city's drop-off sites. He implored residents not to put the recyclable material in trash cans.

Crews will do their best to pick up as much recycling as they can, Pugh said. The drivers have assigned routes and will try to pick up some other areas until the positions are filled, he said.

Peter Nierengarten, the city's environmental director, said it's unclear which parts of town or how many households may go without curbside recycling pickup service. The city's administration is working on a plan to recruit drivers with a CDL, he said. The city will continue to track the amounts of material recycled during the limited service time.

"The goal each day will be try to get as much as we can get, but we know we're not going to be able to get all of it," Nierengarten said. "We're asking for people's patience. If we don't get you one week, we're going to try to get there the next week. If that doesn't work, then we've got the recycle drop-offs available."

Nierengarten stressed the importance of residents correctly sorting their recyclable materials. The city only accepts cardboard, mixed paper, steel and aluminum cans, No. 1 and No. 2 plastic bottles, and glass bottles and jars. Cardboard must be flattened, and materials need to be rinsed out. Improper sorting will slow the drivers down while on their routes, he said.

Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville all contract out their curbside recycling services, and none reported having issues with having enough drivers.

Waste Management picks up recycling in Springdale every other week. The city will switch to CARDS Recycling and Waste Management on Dec. 1 and will provide weekly pickup service, said Colby Fulfer, chief of staff to Mayor Doug Sprouse.

"We don't see any issues with driver shortages," he said. "We have included liquidated damages in our contract, which should prevent us from seeing those kind of issues."

Rogers contracts with LRS Waste Management Services for recycling pickup. Chris Snyder with LRS said the company is always looking for help but isn't experiencing a driver shortage that would result in limited residential pickup. The company also serves Lowell, West Fork, Johnson and Little Flock in Northwest Arkansas.

Snyder said the private waste management industry is experiencing challenges across the board, with disposal costs rising and recycling values dropping. The federal government also in recent years increased the training required for CDL certification, making it more of a challenge to find drivers, he said.

LRS makes it a point to communicate with the cities it serves if there are any issues with its recycling service, Snyder said.

"It's always the last thing that people think about, but when it's not there, it's the first thing they think about," he said.

Bentonville contracts with Republic Services for recycling pickup, and all of its routes are running as usual, said Gary Wilson, the city's billing and collections manager.

"We have not heard from Republic about this being a possibility in Bentonville," he said.

The Fayetteville Public Library is providing the city a list of patrons who have gone through its CDL training program at its Center for Innovation. The library, free of charge, provides a simulator for patrons to learn the basics for CDL certification. Graduates of the program then go on to Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale to receive practical training, he said.

Johnson said there are about 10-20 people who have gone through the library's program. Library administrators saw a growing need in the region for drivers with CDL certification when coming up with a plan for its recent expansion, he said.

"We keep our eyes and ears out to what we can glean from the workforce and what people are asking for and what employers are looking for," Johnson said.

Drop-off locations

Fayetteville will have limited curbside recycling pickup for residences starting Monday. The following drop-off sites are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

Happy Hollow Recycling Drop-off at 1420 S. Happy Hollow Road.

Marion Orton Recycling Drop-off, at 735 W. North St.

For more information, go to:


To see a job listing for recycling truck drivers in Fayetteville, go to:


Source: Fayetteville