ORE – Recovered Material began in 1989 as the non-profit Ozark Recycling Enterprise with the charge of fostering rural recycling centers in Arkansas. Recycling in Arkansas was being initiated by grassroots groups in several communities and with Ozark Recycling Enterprise it was now possible.
ORE’s first priority was to educate participants on which materials were truly recyclable and had value in the marketplace, how to handle and process materials, and how to market programs to the general public. At the beginning, paper was the chief recyclable commodity. Some communities were large enough to make full truckloads of cardboard and newspaper, while other communities would need help getting partial loads to market which required what was called “milk runs” to pick-up two and three communities at a time to take the material to the mill. At one point, a baler was put on a truck and would go to communities that did not have facilities and bale the collected material.
Marketing the material to get maximum value and returning that money back to the community in support of these fledgling recycling programs and continuing education became paramount. Quality of material was a very important component and part of the marketing strategy. Early relationships with Weyerhaeuser established a stable market for the recycled fiber. As markets developed, plastic bottles were added to the growing list of materials collected, baled and marketed.
Ozark Recycling Enterprise went through a tumultuous time after the first director retired. The Board was at a crossroads and decided to give a new director the chance to turn the operation around and make it the power house it had once been in the development of recycling in Arkansas. At this juncture the Board hired Martha Treece as its new director in 1998.
Martha picked up the pieces and rejuvenated the organization and started growing established programs and developing new programs throughout the state. One avenue was the sheltered workshops that now make up a great many of the wonderful and productive programs in the state.
During this time of growth help was needed and Bill Treece joined the organization in the year 2000. A truck had been purchased for the “milk runs,” and freight to the mills had to be handled–a process which required constant attention.
Everything was growing and the question was asked if the organization had grown beyond its original non-profit beginnings. The answer was yes. To the benefit of many communities and the State of Arkansas, Ozark Recycling Enterprise had not only fostered rural recycling as an integrated part of solid waste management, it had outgrown its original designation and the board decided to sell the company’s assets to Bill and Martha Treece. A non-profit spawned a profit business: ORE – Recovered Material.
ORE – Recovered Material now operates beyond the borders of Arkansas and handles a myriad of recyclables including multiple grades of paper, plastic, metals, and textiles. The company still maintains its original commission of growing rural recycling while extending helping hands to grow commercial and industrial recycling. ORE offers assistance with program design, sells balers, baling wire and other recycling equipment, and offers free consultation to any organization or community hoping to divert waste to trusted manufacturers.