Recycling collection leaves the house
Boise, Idaho; St. Louis; Pittsburgh and other cities have begun placing recycling bins at public events and areas in response to residents’ requests to recycle outside their homes. By offering recycling collection beyond curbside pickup, cities are diverting tons more material from landfills.
In 2001, Boise created a special-event recycling program after identifying public events as high-volume opportunities for collecting recyclable materials, says Catherine Chertudi, Boise’s environmental programs manager. The city gives event organizers recycling containers, bag liners, highly visible “Recycle Here!” banners and frames, and information on conducting a successful recycling effort.
Boise also promotes public-space recycling in downtown areas with high pedestrian traffic and near businesses where recyclable products are sold. Local businesses monitor the recycling bins. Volunteers transport the recyclables to a collection area at city hall.
In 2007, the city collected more than four tons of recyclable materials from special events and downtown recycling bins. “We expect to double the volume of plastic collected in 2008 because we are now taking all plastics #1-7 in the bins,” Chertudi says.
St. Louis County began collecting recyclables at public events early last year. The Department of Health awarded a grant to the non-profit St. Louis Earth Day organization to manage recycling at eight county events throughout the year. The program uses single-stream collection bins, in which different types of recyclables can be placed.
The bins are easily portable, clearly marked and hold transparent bags. The program recycles beverage containers, cardboard, paper, spent cooking oil, and metal food-prep items from event vendors and attendees. “In the program’s first year, we were able to divert 11 tons of recyclable material from area landfills with just eight events,” says Terri Reilly, executive director of St. Louis Earth Day. “The goal for 2008 is to bring the program to at least 25 regional events, divert a minimum of 50 tons, and impact nearly 2 million people.” The non-profit organization plans to help the St. Louis Convention Center implement recycling, launch an interactive Web site containing a recycling guide, and expand into the city.
In 1990, Pittsburgh developed an ordinance requiring recycling at special events that attract more than 200 people, and last year, it developed a brochure to summarize the requirements. The city loans event organizers recycling containers and small trailers to store recyclables, and city crews transport them to a recycling center. Event organizers are responsible for maintaining and supervising the containers during the event.
Including recycling requirements in event permits reminds event coordinators that recycling is the law, says Shawn Wigle, Pittsburgh’s recycling supervisor. A cooperative relationship with the city’s event permit review committee helps the recycling office identify approved events and prepare recycling resources. “We collected over 13 tons of recyclables from approximately 100 special events to which we provided assistance in 2007,” Wigle says. By recycling, event planners often are able to reduce disposal costs for the events.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented an outreach initiative, “Recycle on the Go,” to help government officials establish effective public-space recycling programs. The Recycle on the Go Web site, www.epa.gov/recycleonthego, offers information on implementing recycling programs at special events and large venues, descriptions of some communities’ efforts and tools to measure the greenhouse gas savings from recycling.
— Judy Taylor is the Recycle on the Go program manager.