Spirit of Arkansas: Recycling New Ideas

Recycling in Arkansas has made great strides since it was first brought to our attention in the early 90s, in fact at first glance many people thought it was a crazy idea.

One of the recycling pioneers in Faulkner County continues to make a lasting impact on the area.

As Debbie Plopper from Conway makes her weekly walk to push recyclables to the curb, she vividly remembers when what's inside the bin was treated as invaluable, when she first moved to Faulkner County in the early 90s.

"It was a little bit of a radical idea. I mean I got these looks when you brought up recycling, 'you want me to do what with my waste," she laughed about her initial push to local resident.

Along with friends, Plopper saw a need to conserve the city's overflowing landfill. With some support from city officials and other recycling enthusiasts, the dream began to get people involved in treating their waste differently.

"In 1990 we went to look at a landfill, the truck dumping, you would see tons of cardboard, oodles of plastic, oodles of cans all of these things that are recyclable," Plopper added about seeing reusable items wasted.

What started as a small, local effort has formed into Conway boasting one of the largest recycling facilities in the entire nation.

"Debbie is a great example of one person that actually did make a difference. She had an idea, but she decided to work at that idea and implement it," said Brad Lacy with the Conway Chamber of Commerce.

Lacy said Plopper's futuristic idea is what has Conway as a model-a city when it comes to recycling in the state.

"(I) Really started thinking about, 'wow this is something I should do too,'" Lacy said of Plopper getting her point across about not wasting things

"If she's this passionate about it then it's important, and I think that passion is contagious for people."

What started with a few people, and a bright idea, has made an impact county wide with people recycling and reusing this concept of making the most out of trash.

It's surged on a new spirit of advocates with Conway's EcoFest, and it's evolved from a once a month chore to a daily job.

"When we first started we had one truck, one day a week to do recycling in the whole community. Now we have an entire fleet and they pick-up everything in one day.," Plopper added.