The City of Denton Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) wanted to reduce the amount of litter in its parks while improving the amount of uncontaminated recycled materials. The parks have traditionally used fifty-five-gallon drums with trash bag liners to collect solid waste. The same drums are used with blue lids to collect recycling materials. The PARD wanted to decrease the amount of litter in the parks by providing trash receptacles that encourage higher use by design. Additionally, the PARD wanted to increase the amount of recycled materials collected and decrease the contamination in the recycling containers caused by comingling of trash.
A couple of years ago, PARD did a brief study in Avondale Park to find if changing from the traditional fifty-five-gallon trash and recycling containers to more permanent, easily identifiable receptacles would decrease litter in the park and increase the correct use of the recycling containers. The new receptacles have concrete bases, recycled material sides, and dome lids. Each container is clearly labeled as trash or recycling. Further, the trash container’s dome lids have hinged openings to allow for larger trash items. The recycling containers have domed lids with a limited-size opening more suited for bottles and cans. Several trash and recycling containers were purchased and installed. Over a three-day sampling period, the use of the newer receptacles showed a 15% comingling of trash in the recycling versus 45-50% comingling in the older containers.
Pard proposed a pilot program for a grant from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to replace over two-hundred fifty-five-gallon drum-style trash and recycling containers in Fred Moore and South Lake Parks and the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center. PARD received $199,836 grant award. The receptacles were purchased and installed by PARD staff and results are being tracked by the park planning staff. PARD staff will maintain and replace receptacles as needed using annual operating funding.
These parks and natural areas are high-use and have histories of litter and recycling contamination. Based on the previous Avondale Park study, the PARD projects to reduce litter and recycling contamination in these parks by approximately 35%. This benefits park users and visitors by helping to maintain a clean and safe environment as well as positively contributing to the City’s overall recycling efforts and programs. Preliminary reviews of the trash and recycling containers show only a 10% contamination in the recycling and higher amounts of true trash in the trash containers.