2008 RENO-SPARKS DRIVE-THRU RECYCLING PROGAM
Originally inspired by the 2007 Burning Man 2007 "Green Man" art theme, the Reno-Sparks Drive-thru Recycling Project came about when a number of environmentally-conscious businesses, organizations, and people came together to provide recycling centers in Reno where participants could drive in and deposit their recyclables on their way to and from Black Rock City - no strings attached. This free and convenient service is available during and following the week of Burning Man.
Currently, the program accepts most plastics, glass, all metals, cardboard, paper, bicycles, and rechargeable batteries. All that was asked of participants was to have their recyclables clean and sorted before depositing. In order to encourage more recycling and appropriate sorting, garbage disposal was also available to recyclers at $3 per 35-gallon bag.
For 2008, Burning Man participants were informed of the program through extensive publicity, including mentions in the Jack Rabbit Speaks email newsletter, Survival Guide, Reno Travel web pages, the Reno Airport Air Playa Info Table, and information materials handed out at the Greeters Station inside Black Rock City. The service was successful due to that publicity, combined with the fact that there were several centers located around the region near regular travel routes. Participation in the program thus exceeded expectations and, at times, a few of the recycling centers experienced sudden waves of traffic, maxing out capacity.
In 2008, there were over three times as many recyclables deposited at the five supporting Save Mart supermarkets than in 2007. This was the final tally of the most notable recyclables for 2008 (with 2007 numbers in parentheses), where the unit of measurement (except for bicycles) is roughly a 4'x4'x3' bin:
Plastics -- 183 bins (55)
Aluminum -- 9 (18)
Other Metals -- 7 (1)
Glass -- 34 (2)
Cardboard -- 64 (24)
Bicycles -- 61 bicycles (7)
All aluminum and metals went to Solid Waste Reduction Services in Reno, plastics to Earth First Recycling, glass to Waste Management, and cardboard and plastic bags remained in-house with Save Mart's regular recycling. All bicycles went to the Kiwanis Bike Project. Garbage disposal was also apparently a big help to Burners, as eleven 30-foot dumpsters were filled.
The proceeds from recyclables amounted to $683. Save Mart matched that amount, making for $1,366 that was donated to Black Rock Solar to help fund the installation of a solar array for the Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno. All proceeds from garbage disposal went to cover expenses incurred by Waste Management for dumpster use and transportation.
For 2009, the project hopes to make a number of changes, including a joint recycling initiative between Save Mart and Whole Foods (who in 2008 initiated a fairly successful recycling project of their own), increasing capacity and flow at the centers, as well as the possibility of Washoe County moving toward some form of single-stream recycling for the region. These changes would make recycling that much more accessible and convenient to more Burning Man participants.
Any feedback about this project should be emailed to renorecycling.