Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
Whether theyre the size of a city block or occupy thousands of acres, parks attract visitors seeking to relax and enjoy nature. During their visits, however, the public brings in most of the waste generated in parks. This reality makes it difficult to influence the amount of waste that is recyclable. Beverage containers historically have been the main recyclables generated in parks, and if recycled, these and other recyclable materials could reduce disposal costs and generate revenue for parks.
Location of Recycling Bins
The diversity of parks in the United States and the activities and facilities available at each make it impractical to specify a one-size-fits-all approach to determining where to place recycling bins. Ease of access, both for visitors and the park staff, volunteers, or contractors tasked with collecting the materials, should be a key consideration. The following guidance can help park managers select the most appropriate locations for placing bins at their sites.
- Make recycling convenient. Place bins near picnic grounds, concession areas, campsites, and parking areas.
- Cluster recycling bins with trash cans. Its important that recycling bins be placed next to each trash can.
- In large parks, such as national or state parks that are spread out and occupy many acres of land, place recycling bins in centralized locations, such as near concessionaires, at visitor centers, and near the entrances to trails or exhibits.
- In small parks, such as those in urban areas, intersperse recycling bins throughout the entire park, typically adjacent to trash cans.
Education is a crucial tool for motivating the public to recycle. Below are a few tried-and-true methods to help make recycling successful in parks.
- Coordinate recycling efforts with park managers and stafftheir acceptance and support of the program are essential for success.
- Advertise the location of recycling bins.
- Use clear and consistent signage.
- Provide educational brochures about the parks recycling program.
- Require recycling in permits for camping, renting pavilions, and other such activities.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to convey information about recycling. For parks with controlled access, provide recycling information at the gate or entrance booth, or provide bags for visitors to use for their recyclables.
Although the public brings in most of the waste generated in parks, concessionaires play a vital role in recycling.
- Visit our Concessionaires & Vendors page to learn how to involve these valuable partners.
- Work with concessionaires and vendors to reduce packaging and encourage them to sell products in recyclable containers.
- Marymoor Park, Redmond, Washington (PDF) (6 pp, 628K, about PDF)
- Yellowstone National Park (PDF) (2 pp, 93K, about PDF).
Tools & Resources
- A Green Guide for Waste Management and Recycling During Special Events at National Capital Regional Parks (PDF) (8 pp, 580K) helps private event organizers and park managers successfully plan waste reduction and recycling programs for special events held at national parks
- The Tool Kit for Solid Waste Management (PDF) (83 pp, 1.2MB, about PDF) shows how to build or improve a solid waste management program. EPA Region 8 and the National Park Service Intermountain Region developed this kit.