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Boise City Events Recycling

recycling bins in downtown Boise City

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Contact: Pamela Williams (mwilliams@cityofboise.org), Solid Waste Program Coordinator, 208-395-7886

In 2001, Boise City identified public events as high-volume sources of trash (usually city donated services) with an equally high percentage of recyclable materials. The creation of an events recycling program was a win-win endeavor — less trash going to the landfill, less donated services (costs) to the city, and more recyclable revenues.

A typical public event attracts hundreds or thousands of attendees; generates 6-200 yards of trash; and, at the very least, generates plastic bottles and cardboard that could be recycled. From the beginning, we knew that collecting the materials would be easy and convincing event organizers to recycle would be the hard part. We were right. As easy as recycling is, there are still many people out there who think recycling outside of the home is too much effort and give up before they begin. With this knowledge, Boise City’s program was designed to educate event organizers and attendees about the ease of recycling away from home; train citizens to expect recycling at public events; and divert materials away from the landfill. To that extent, our program has been successful, but not without frustrations.

In 2002, Boise City received a NAPCOR grant and purchased 20 event recycling containers. These containers were added to the 20 donated fiber barrels and soon we were able to serve larger events more successfully. In addition to providing recycling containers, the city also provided the bag liners, transported the recyclables, and provided all of the on-site volunteers—all at no cost to the event. Initially, only the largest events or those events that had a clear recycling stream were approached and offered recycling technical assistance and use of the bins.

Five years later the program has grown. Our stock of recycling containers has more than doubled, we’ve developed a great variety of recycling signage, we provide a tip sheet on how to conduct a successful recycling effort, and we’ve developed simple PVC frameworks to support highly visible "Recycle Here!" banners. We now offer these materials and our assistance to any event that requests these services. We also collect more recyclable materials including cardboard; newspaper; mixed paper; aluminum and steel cans; plastic bottles and cups; and compostable cups.

Women carrying cardboard boxes for recycling

Most of our initial contacts with event organizers are through the Boise City Parks & Recreation Department who oversees the use and rental of public facilities. Event organizers wishing to hold a public event must appear before a multi-agency team and present the details of their event. The team includes key staff from city departments (police, fire, public works, and parks), the highway department, emergency services, and others. The Special Events Team meeting has become an effective platform for beginning a dialogue with organizers, and it has allowed us to offer recycling assistance to events of all sizes. We now provide assistance to events ranging from a few hundred to tens-of-thousands of attendees.

As the program has grown, demands on staff time have also grown. Most of the events occur on Saturday or Sunday, resulting in an extended work week for Public Works staff. To increase capacity, Public Works entered into an agreement with the Boise State University Environmental Health Club to provide recycling services at six of the largest events. In exchange for the services, the city gave the club $3000.

In 2007, the city will begin to transition recycling responsibilities to event organizers. We will continue to provide signage and technical assistance and will make the containers available, but will ask the organizations to haul the containers, oversee material collection, and transport collected materials to the recycling center.

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woman standing behind recycling containers

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