Van Buren has increased the amount of recyclable materials diverted from the landfill by offering a weekly recyclable program.

The city has had an ongoing curbside recycling collection program since March 1994, according to Brett Painter, special programs coordinator for Van Buren Municipal Utilities.

The program is currently operated by Deffenbaugh Industries as part of an agreement for the collection of residential solid waste and recycling between the Van Buren Municipal Utilities Commission and Deffenbaugh of Arkansas LLC.

Since Feb. 4, Van Buren residential sanitation customers have had the opportunity to voluntarily set recyclable materials at the curb each week, on the same day as normal garbage collection, an increase from the previous twice a month recycling pickup, Painter said.

Currently, about 10 percent of the city’s residents participate in the voluntary curbside recycling collection program.

There are approximately 7,100 Van Buren residents on the city’s mandatory solid waste collection program at a cost to the residents of $14.40 per month, added to the utility bill.

During the first half of 2012, because of the bimonthly voluntary curbside recycling program, 75 tons of recyclable materials were diverted from the landfill and delivered to Corrugated Services to be recycled, Peters said.

During the same period in 2013, since recycling was increase to a weekly pickup from a bimonthly pickup, 104 tons of recyclable materials were diverted from the landfill and delivered to Corrugated Services to be recycled, he said.

"That’s an increase of 38 percent," Peters said. "We would like to thank the residents of Van Buren for helping make the recycling program successful and for helping to keep Van Buren beautiful. Also, we would like to encourage all residents that can to participate in the recycling program."

Items currently collected are:

• Steel cans (cans must be empty).

• Aluminum cans (no aluminum foil).

• Plastic milk jugs, plastic soda bottles (all colors) and other No. 1 and No. 2 plastic bottles and containers (containers must be empty).

• Newspaper, white paper, junk mail, magazines, catalogs, phonebooks, cardboard and chipboard (cereal-type boxes). No pizza boxes or items with food residue are accepted.

Residents in apartments or multifamily dwellings not on Van Buren’s residential sanitation program and small businesses/offices can take recyclable items to the recycle drop-off center at Deffenbaugh Industries, 2598 S. Fourth St., or to one of Van Buren School District’s drop-off centers.

"Contact the Van Buren public school nearest to you for details," Peters said. "Large businesses and industries are encouraged to investigate methods of recycling/ waste reduction for the products/materials they use."