Fayetteville Workers Pick Up Waste Too Large For Trash Cans

Massive Bulky Waste Haul Keeps Tens of Tons of Waste From Landfills

Fayetteville workers pick-up waste that is too large for trash cans for free eight times a year.

By Abby Zimmardi
The Razorback Reporter

Three semitrailers – outfitted to crush and haul waste – parked at Vandergriff Elementary, where Fayetteville residents drove their loaded vehicles and city workers unloaded trash too big to drop into curbside bins.

Fayetteville workers unload a resident’s trailer filled with bulky waste and toss it into a semitrailer, Oct. 12. Photo by Abby Zimmardi

The discarded waste – couches, mattresses, chairs and other bulky items – was part of an eight-times yearly collection that the city organizes, said Brian Pugh, Fayetteville waste reduction coordinator. Residents also brought metal items, including swing-sets, and electronics (e-waste), such as computers and printers.

“If you have big bulky stuff, you can get rid of it at no cost as long as you are a Fayetteville resident paying for trash service,” Pugh said. “That is part of your services that the city offers.”

On that early October day alone, Fayetteville workers collected 48.42 tons of trash for the landfill, 15.95 tons of metal for recycling and 3.19 tons of e-waste for recycling, Pugh said. Bulky waste is collected four times in the spring and four in the fall.

“Typically a cleanup would be about 40-50 tons,” Pugh said. “And the e-waste that we’re able to collect, is usually between 2 and 5 tons.”

The program is geared toward encouraging waste diversion, including composting and recycling to prevent overloading landfills, Pugh said.

The cleanup includes paper shredding for three hours of the October session, Pugh said. Residents can take tax returns or any similarly personal information that they want shredded, and workers recycle the shredded paper.

To prove Fayetteville residency and attend the cleanup, patrons can show a water bill or driver’s license with a Fayetteville address to the event, Pugh said.

“We ask the best thing is to bring proof that you pay for services,” Pugh said. “So like a water bill has that on there. But if they don’t have that, a driver’s license with a Fayetteville address works fine.”

Fayetteville resident Becca Clark attended the Sept. 21 cleanup and brought a cat tree and a wooden magazine rack.

“The guys there are super nice and very helpful,” she said. “They open the car and drag all of the stuff for you.”

Clark has known about the cleanups for nearly 10 years, she said. Even when she does not attend one, she lets her friends know about them.

Pugh thinks that the price for monthly trash services is a good deal for what residents get, he said.

“If you’re a resident that really tries hard to recycle and has that small trash cart, you get your trash, recycling, yard waste, bulky waste, all of that for $10 a month,” Pugh said. “I mean come on, that’s a really good deal.”

Pugh calls the waste system a “pay as you throw” program, which means residents can choose from three trash bin sizes, he said. The smaller the bin, the lower the rate is to have weekly, home trash collection.

Residents have to separate waste from recyclables before Fayetteville workers collect it because workers will not take recycling that is mixed with trash, Pugh said.

“If they will take the time to separate out their waste and try to think of those as resources as opposed to waste, then they can save money,” Pugh said. “But it’s up to them, really. There is no mandatory recycling in Fayetteville.”

Residents who were unable to attend the Oct. 12 clean up, had one more opportunity, Oct. 26. The Fayetteville Recycling and Trash Collection can pick up waste from neighborhoods if residents cannot attend the events, as long as there is room for the truck to maneuver, Pugh said.

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Abby Zimmardi is a junior at the University of Arkansas majoring in journalism with afocus in news/editorial. Zimmardi is a news reporter for the Arkansas Traveler and has gained experience in photojournalism through her study abroad in Bolivia. Zimmardi is covering stories about the environment in the 2019 Digital Media Lab.