New recycling receptacles coming soon to Austin parks

Years of advocacy to implement recycling in Austin’s 300 parks is beginning to pay off. Starting this fall, 800 new recycling bins will be installed alongside 800 new trash cans in Austin’s parks over the next four years, said Meredith Gauthier, the new recycling program manager for the Parks and Recreation Department, in a presentation to the Zero Waste Advisory Commission on Oct. 9. The parks department recycling program aims to achieve a one-to-one pairing of recycling receptacles next to trash cans at all Austin parks, Gauthier said.

City Council authorized the contract for the purchase, assembly and installation of 800 new recycling and 800 new trash receptacles in the city’s metro, district and neighborhood parks and recreational areas at its Sept. 19 meeting. Two contractors, Max-R and Piatra Inc., will split a maximum award of $930,000 for up to four years of work: Max-R will supply, assemble and deliver the receptacles, and Piatra Inc. will install them at designated park locations mounted on posts on top of concrete pads to prevent leakage and spills.

Commissioner Kaiba White expressed surprise about the long timeline for manufacturing and installing the recycling bins. “Somehow I thought that when we were able to secure funding for all of the receptacles that things were going to move forward quicker,” White said.

Liana Kallivoka, assistant director of the parks department, stressed the importance of taking time to ensure that all park managers are on board with the new recycling bins.

“I would like for us to be careful on how we move forward so that we don’t just add receptacles – that would have been the easy thing,” Kallivoka said. “We want to make sure that we have full support and buy-in from our park managers and understand what we’re doing where so that we don’t overstep or create an issue that sets us back with regard to recycling.”

However, Kallivoka emphasized that installing all the receptacles could be completed in less than the four-year timeline noted in Gauthier’s presentation: “If we can move faster, we will move faster,” she said.

“Obviously I’m in favor of moving faster,” White responded.

Some of the new trash receptacles will replace outdated trash bins (the rectangular concrete bins) and other trash receptacles will be placed in new locations where appropriate, said a PARD spokesperson. Wherever the new receptacles are added, they will be paired one-to-one with the recycling receptacles to comply with Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance.

During last Wednesday’s meeting, Gauthier presented a rendering of the new royal-blue recycling bins, which will feature two openings for recyclables – one on each side of the lid – as well as the words “Recycling Only” printed vertically in white lettering down the body of the receptacle. Vinyl stickers illustrating which products are recyclable will be added on the top. The updated trash receptacles will feature a caramel-colored body with a black lid, using the same general design as the new recycling receptacles.

PARD is implementing recycling in three phases: phase one, which is currently underway, focuses on installing recycling receptacles at aquatic facilities, athletic complexes, metropolitan parks, and golf courses. Zilker Metropolitan Park, Town Lake Metropolitan Park and Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park have already received new recycling bins, and Emma Long Metropolitan Park and Roy G. Guerrero Metropolitan Park, among other metro parks, are next on the list for installation.

The first delivery of the new recycling and trash receptacles will be installed in metro parks this fall.

Phase two of recycling implementation will focus on district parks, while phase three will center on neighborhood parks and any remaining park facilities. Austin Resource Recovery will service the new park recycling receptacles every other week, at a monthly cost to the city of $42.85 per park. One park may contain multiple receptacles.

The parks department is also working with Waste Management, another service provider, to install recycling dumpsters at five south Austin locations: Dick Nichols District Park, Circle C Metro Park/Slaughter Creek Soccer Fields, Onion Creek Soccer Complex, Central Maintenance Complex, and Barton Creek Greenbelt Trailhead. Waste Management will service each dumpster at a monthly cost to the city ranging from $67.77 to $172.30, depending on the size of the dumpster and the frequency of pickup.

Additionally, the parks department is partnering with the Trail Foundation to add recycling receptacles along the Pfluger Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge and at trailheads along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, pairing the receptacles with existing trash receptacles when appropriate. The department is adopting a new branding campaign, called “Leave No Trace,” to encourage residents to protect the environment by using proper recycling and waste management procedures.

To assess the program’s success, PARD will conduct quarterly waste audits in Fiscal Year 2020 to measure the weekly total of recycling and landfill trash generated at four representative park sites: Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Bartholomew District Park, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, and Barton Creek Greenbelt Trailhead.