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Recycling in Public Parks

November, 22 2011 at 10:53 AM  account icon posted by Renee Van Siclen   image 5 comments »


I work with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and I am interested in connecting with employees from other park districts who are developing public recycling programs. The Minneapolis program was strong at the beginning of the 2000s, but it has declined since that time and is now struggling to improve. We have two major obstacles to engaged recycling practices right now- a lack of uniform employee recycling policies (it seems like all of our facilities are doing different things), and, even more challenging, educating the public and influencing their behavior when we have limited direct interaction with them.

If you are a park employee or have been involved with similar public space recycling efforts, I would love to hear from you and perhaps compare notes. It seems like there are not very many strong park recycling programs at this point, so I think it's important for different park organizations to share input and experience in order to make public park recycling a norm.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Renee Van Siclen
Waste Prevention and Recycling Coordinator
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
United States


5 Comments Sorted by:

1 Jenny Ammonaccount icon View Profile Posted on November, 23 2011 at 10:54 AM

Hello Renee,
I am working on this issure currently. I am going to concentrate my efforts in 3 or our campgrounds. (the 3 busiest campgrounds) The public outreach/education is going to be key. I have baseline data from our hauler and am hoping by adding recycling we drastically decrease the amount of waste making into the landfill. I would like to discuss this in further detail and set-up the best possible option for the public.
Jenny Ammon
Dubuque County Naturalist

Jenny Ammon
Dubuque County Conservation Board
United States

2 Philip Homerskiaccount icon View Profile Posted on November, 23 2011 at 04:45 PM

Hello Renee:
The City of Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) has provided seasonal recyclables collection service at 28 municipal park locations since 2005. Unfortunately a 2007 waste audit of a sampling of parks revealed abysmal cross-contamination results in both the waste and recycling streams. City Council directed staff to plan and implement a "public awareness campaign" to encourage proper disposal of recyclables by parks users. In 2010, I implemented a social marketing initiative that encouraged parks users to "put waste in the right place" which has now grown into a public space waste management program supported by corporate sponsorships. I would be more than happy to share our experience with you.

Philip Homerski
Information & Business Advisor
City of Hamilton Public Works Department

3 john davisaccount icon View Profile Posted on November, 24 2011 at 11:19 AM

Here is a good source for containers if wildlife is an issue

john davis
mojave desert and mountain recycling authority
United States

4 Bianca Howardaccount icon View Profile Posted on November, 29 2011 at 12:18 PM

The City of Raleigh (North Carolina) is embarking upon a similar project to improve recycling in its parks. The Solid Waste Services Department has provided outdoor containers and weekly collection for almost ten years. That program was successful, but didn't engage the employees. A training specialist in the Parks and Recreation Department wrote a grant to buy indoor containers and involve employees in increasing waste diversion. For specifics, email

Bianca Howard
Community Education Specialist
City of Raleigh Solid Waste Services
United States

5 Tess Rutleyaccount icon View Profile Posted on January, 31 2012 at 12:02 PM

I am currently implementing public recycling for the Township of Langley in BC Canada on both our streets and in our public parks. We have decided to implement a container stream for recycling in our parks.

We ordered barrels that were the same as the garbage barrels and budded them up against one another. The one for containers is painted "recycling blue" and has a decal that says bottle and cans. We have found these barrels to be very successful for a few reasons. First, the hole size of your bin must be restricted so that only a bottle or can will fit. Coffee cups are the main contaminants but if the hole is small enough the coffee cups won't fit because they widen at the top. Also we found we had almost zero contamination once we added a flapper under the hole.

We have done a few audits and are finding no recyclables in the garbage stream
and for the most part our container bins are being serviced by the public because we keep them unlocked.

One of the problems we are having is that if the public are taking the containers they tend to take the bags as well and then this becomes problematic for our crews who come to empty the non-refunables. We are looking into an "adopt-a-can" program, whereby non-profit groups and sports clubs could adopt all the cans at the par. We would lock the cans and that group would be responsible for emptying the containers.

Any thoughts? has anyone done an adopt-a-can program?

Tess Rutley
Solid Waste Coordinator
Township of Langley



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