Richfield’s sustainability efforts are expanding to city parks
As the temperature starts to drop, the number of daily park visitors drops with it. However, this reduction in park usage can be seen as an opportunity for needed changes to be made. In terms of fall 2019, that means expanding the city’s ongoing sustainability efforts in its parks.
Starting October 18 and running through the end of the month, this initiative will improve recycling in Richfield parks and decrease the number of overall trash receptacles from 267 to 57, with 57 additional recycling bins. All receptacles will be placed strategically throughout the city’s parks to increase efficiency and usage.
Previously, recycling in the parks has only been available at the Veterans Park shelter and around ball fields.
“The lack of recycling cans in our parks have resulted in a lot of recyclables, especially single-use plastics, being thrown away, which works against our sustainability efforts and goals,” said Sustainability Specialist Rachel Lindholm. “The secondary goal of this project is to establish a permanent trash and recycling infrastructure in the city’s parks system, which will also improve the appearance of our waste management systems.”
This initiative will be a significant departure from how trash and recycling are currently dealt with at Richfield parks. Park visitors will notice less overall garbage cans and have expanded opportunities to recycle. The new receptacles will be permanently installed in parks and become established parts of the parks system.
The bins themselves will be a major aesthetic departure from their predecessors, lending much more to the ambiance of Richfield’s parks. The current plastic receptacles are wheeled and can often be found moved throughout the park.
The project will also advance the city’s sustainability goals.
“Right now, almost all of the recyclable materials disposed of at the city’s parks end up in a landfill,” explained Lindholm. “The majority of what is thrown away in the parks are water, energy drink or pop bottles, all of which are entirely recyclable. Adding these new bins will further reduce the city’s carbon footprint.”
The reduction in overall containers will also result in expanded Public Works Department services for residents.
“There will be fewer cans for park maintenance staff to drive around to and empty. The new cans will be permanently installed, so staff will always know how many need to be emptied and where they are,” remarked Public Works Operations Superintendent Chris Link. “We are always trying to make the services we offer more efficient, and adding these new trash and recycling cans will do just that.”
Further adding to the city’s sustainability efforts, the retiring garbage containers will be recycled. Most of them will be reused in other cities, while Richfield will keep some to use for special events when needed. The containers that are coming to the end of their lifespan will be shredded and recycled and used as base materials for other consumer products.
Some residents have raised concerns that fewer trash containers will lead to more litter in the city’s parks, but city staff is optimistic that this will not be the case.
“Thankfully, our park visitors already do a good job disposing of their trash, so we hope to work off of that great start,” stated Lindholm. “We will be rolling out a communication effort to inform residents where the cans will be located. We will also be using this initiative as a call to action to help keep our community beautiful by picking up litter if residents see it.”