Each year, the honor goes to a person “who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability in Arkansas over the past year,” according to the ARC website.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Pope said. “It’s a highly respectable group.”
Pope was named the recipient of the honor at the ARC conference in September. Robert Phelps, former director for Keep Arkansas Beautiful, nominated Pope for this year’s award.
“John has been a champion for recycling ever since he became involved in Keep Arkansas Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful,” Phelps said. “Some of the things he has accomplished there in Van Buren … have really impressed me.”
Pope has worked on numerous recycling and beautification projects in Van Buren and throughout the area, including city-wide clean ups twice a year, a yearly electronic waste collection and ongoing cigarette litter prevention.
He helped create a Van Buren School District recycling program, and started a regional recycling competition for schools participating in Recycle-Bowl.
As state commissioner for Keep Arkansas Beautiful for several years, Pope worked to get communities across the state to host annual America Recycles Day events.