Carroll County has become the first county in the state with a population of fewer than 50,000 to be designated as a Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) by the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission.
“I think this is very good news for us,” Phil Jackson, executive director, Carroll County Solid Waste Authority (CCSWA), said of the October 24 decision in Little Rock. “We appreciate the Pollution Control and Ecology Commission granting us this opportunity. I very much appreciate the commission recognizing we do all that is required and more performing the duties of a SWMD.”
On the ground there won’t be any major changes; CCSWA will still operate the very same way with trash collecting and recycling. But the CCWMA will see advantages on contracting agreements and be able to put on more recycling and waste reduction educational programs, Jackson said.
“It basically gives us more options and power than before,” Jackson said. “One of the big advantages to us is we will not be paying another district $2 per ton for solid waste transferred to a landfill. We will take that funding we used to send to them to use for internal programs in education, capital improvements and even our ability to expand some of the materials we process. We want to take advantage of a lot of options that will become available to us.”
Jackson said they plan to do more educational programs with schools and civic groups, and promote community involvement and awareness of how to reduce solid waste that goes into a landfill.
Previously Carroll County was part of the six-county Ozark Mountain SWMD. That district was roiled financially by a landfill operation that went belly up owing millions. Carroll County property owners ended up with a controversial $18 per year annual charge for settling a lawsuit over the landfill. The recent ruling by the ecology commission doesn’t change anything about that $18 charge, although that is being challenged in a separate lawsuit.
Jackson said they are constantly searching for new markets for recycling.
“Right now, opportunities are low for new markets, but when those improve, we will be there,” Jackson said. “We can’t collect anything for recycling we can’t dispose of. Hopefully more markets will become available because of excess end products. There are a number of products we would like to be able to recycle like Styrofoam. We watch and do research to see if end users come up with way to use it. Even if we just break even, it is better than going to the landfill where we pay for transportation and disposal costs. Obviously, other uses rather than putting waste in landfills is better.”
Sam Ledbetter, the attorney for the CCSWA, said the ecology commission took the recommendations of an administrative law judge in approving the CCSWMD.
“A single county district will be able to offer better and more services in terms of education, recycling and other programs,” Ledbetter said. “They will be able to make their request for grants and program support directly to ADEQ. They have always been eligible, but now they just won’t have to go through Ozark Mountain SWMD. They can deal directly with ADEQ.”
Another benefit is that the $2 ton collected for every ton of solid waste will be kept in the country allow the district to provide more educational programs, bulk pickup and all the opportunities that a well-managed SWMD can offer to residents.
“Carroll County has great solid waste authority,” Ledbetter said. “They look to improve it with this opportunity. There are a lot of counties that have hardly anything in the way of recycling. Carroll County is fortunate to have a good recycling program.”