Recycling

The Abilities Unlimited recycling center on West University.

After calls delayed or missed recycle pickup recently to Columbia County Judge Denny Foster’s office, regular routes should now be back on track, Foster told the Quorum Court on Monday.

Foster noted Monday that complaints have all but disappeared lately.

“The recycle calls about pickup have gone down tremendously over the past eight days,” he said.

The reason for the improvement is simple: Waste Corporation of Arkansas (WCA), the county’s contracted solid waste collection firm, has the proper amount of drivers again.

“They’ve finally got a full staff on board,” Foster added.

Columbia County JP Oliver Thomas, who also chairs the Quorum Court’s solid waste committee, did state Monday, however, that recycle pickup had not been collected at his Luther Street home in Magnolia for quite a few days.

“As far as pickup, I haven’t seen them at my house,” he said. “But, I take my recycle to the (drop-off) station anyway.”

Although driver shortages have been the primary causes for solid waste delays, according to Foster, the position is not an easy one to fill. WCA is currently advertising help-wanted ads across the web for additional drivers. The job posting even recently offered a $4,000 sign-on bonus to new drivers, but few potential workers seem interested.

“I don’t know if they had any bites,” said Foster, “even with the bonus offer.”

According to WCA job listings, a truck driver needs to be at least 21 years old, possess a Class A or B commercial driver’s license, and have at least one year of truck-driving experience or have a certification from an accredited truck-driving school. A driver also needs to meet certain DOT standards.

The driver shortage is not a local problem, either. Nationwide, companies are finding out that hiring qualified truck drivers is not an easy task. Although some publications claim the driver shortage is overblown and has existed for years, other outlets report that there are as many as 60,000 fewer truck drivers on the road in the U.S. than there could be.

Driver staffing issues aside, recycle containers in Columbia County are still sometimes filled with non-recyclable goods, according to the Quorum Court Solid Waste Committee head.

“This week, we talked to the recycle station, and they’re dissatisfied with how much trash and how much garbage is in the recycle contents there,” said Thomas.

The station referred to in the comment is the Abilities Unlimited Recycle Center at 223 W. University Street in Magnolia. Unlike some counties and solid waste providers, WCA does not sort contents of the blue-container recycle pick-up.

Instead, the contents are dumped at the Magnolia recycle center, and the workers at the local facility then sort through the contents and sell what they can.

Abilities Unlimited has typically only been able to recycle the following:

-- Corrugated Cardboard

-- High-density plastics (found in most milk jugs and detergent containers)

-- Clean paper goods (no toiletries), plastic soda bottles

-- Aluminum cans.

The recycling center also disposes of old electronics, but a fee is typically included as part of the process.

For more information on which goods can be recycled locally, call the Columbia County Judge’s Office at 870-234-2542 or the Abilities Unlimited at 870-234-2558.

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