It’s past time for a recycling transparency law!

2012 During Lioneld Jordan’s re-election campaign for mayor, Fayetteville collects 3-7 plastic at the 15th St. drop-off site, despite Louise Mann’s assertions, “there is no market for this mess”. Collection ends when Jordan wins re-election and Don Marr retains his six-figure salaried city job (Fayetteville Chief of Staff), a position he acquired after running Jordan’s initial race for mayor.

2012-2014 The plastic mess sits on the city lot for almost two years before being shipped to a plant in Louisiana “to be made” into railroad ties. Louise calls the plant and gets confirmation that 3-7 plastics are contaminants, with only a small percentage used in the composition of the railroad ties. With Louisiana’s environmental track record, who knows what happened to the plastic from Fayetteville?

2015 Lioneld Jordan stops Louise Mann at Farmer’s Market to say Fayetteville is going to single stream because the young people want it. Young people meaning City Council members Sarah Marsh and Matt Petty? Louise tells Lioneld she hates to hear that because she doesn’t want to spend her time and money opposing contaminated recycling, i.e. single stream.

2016 City of Fayetteville spends over $300,000 paying a consultant do a study, a pilot, and recommend single stream. Louise runs a hotline in the Free Weekly newspaper regarding sham recycling, and gets a report that the single stream loads in Fayetteville’s pilot project are so filthy rats were jumping from the trucks. Louise spends thousands of dollars running ads in the Free Weekly and writing letters to the editor, hoping to motivate citizens and Fayetteville City Council members to ask common sense questions about single stream.

2016 In April Louise spends hundreds of dollars to present a recycling information program at the Chancellor Hotel. Despite the torrential rain and stuck mechanical arm making it impossible to use the city’s free parking space behind the Chancellor, SIXTY people showed up to hear directly from Ripple Glass that single stream is too contaminated for their use. No one from the glass, plastic, paper, or aluminum industry has come to Fayetteville City Council to ask that we mix all recycling together in a single compartment truck, i.e. single stream.

Request denied when Louise asks to see the plastic collected from the single stream pilot that the city of Fayetteville contracted the Koch Brothers’ company, Georgia Pacific Harmon, to run.

2018 In a three-part article Brian Pugh tells Arkansas Money and Politics magazine that it’s just a matter of time before a regional single stream MRF comes to Northwest Arkansas:

Fayetteville staff has never conveyed to the Environmental Action Committee (EAC), or more importantly, Fayetteville City Council, the history of residential recycling, much less single stream. The major garbage haulers initiated single stream in an effort to regain market share lost to us volunteers and conservationists who started and ran the original community recycling programs in the 1970s and 80s. The garbage industry is a $70,000,000,000 dollar annual business. Do you really think the garbage hauling industry wants us to reduce the amount of stuff we discard?

2019 July Sharon Lerner writes extensively about plastic recycling, the circular economy, and the history of recycling.

2019 Louise continues her mantra, “We need a recycling transparency ordinance, a local law with legal teeth that states any truck collecting/hauling in Fayetteville must have real time camera coverage of the trucks dumping their loads”.


Texas-based Balcones Recycling, started by Kerry Getter, a former Waste Management, Inc. employee, does business in Little Rock and Austin. Balcones just sold 80% of its stock to the Closed Loop Fund, partners which include Unilever, Wal Mart, Nestles’ Water, Coca Cola, Goldman Sachs, etc.:

“We will have ownership in the vertically integrated model.” The name of the game is Vertical Integration, a system that allows a company to control more than one stage of the supply chain. VI is code word for monopoly. Can you see the danger in giving total control of our recyclable resources to any one company? Have we not learned anything from allowing the garbage industry so much control over our recyclable resources?!

The winners are… huge corporations, Waste to Energy facilities, (i.e. incinerators) and Big Oil. When you trash recycling with single stream collection, your contaminated recyclables may be down-cycled into fuel pellets. Consumers will continue consuming single-use items, instead of using reusables, thus creating more demand for oil.

Local winners include Fayetteville’s Shadow Mayor Don Marr, “Sustainability” Director Peter Nierengarten, City Council members Matt Petty and Sarah Marsh. Secure that city position by giving voters convenience! You recall Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy telling citizens, “Do only that which is convenient.” I could not resist a little sarcasm. Forgive me.

Because of our addiction to convenience, the Losers in the single stream movement will be… the young people of today and their descendants. “…the planet’s not going to be saved by convenience; it’s going to be saved by commitment. And people don’t get committed until they get educated.” Louise Mann quoted in Southern Living, June 1991, about the clean, transparent recycling program she initiated and was privileged to coordinate.

Ask your alderman: 1. Is single stream recycling already happening in Fayetteville via private haulers?

2. Are the loads currently collected by the private haulers mixing recycling with garbage?

3. Is Balcones planning a regional single stream MRF for Northwest Arkansas?

4. When did city staff talk with Balcones?

5. When do you plan to switch Fayetteville to single stream?

6. Will you pass a recycling transparency ordinance before you vote to allow any more private hauler contracts, or vote for single stream?

7. Is Balcones going to downcycle our paper into fuel pellets?

8. Is Balcones going to ship our recycling to Mexico, a country lacking in labor and environmental laws?

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