Central Park Conservancy Awarded Grant to Design New Waste Management System

The Central Park Conservancy, an internationally recognized leader in park management and restoration, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from Alcoa Foundation and an in-kind donation of aluminum valued at $140,000 from Alcoa Recycling to design a sustainable waste management system to increase recycling and make trash removal in the Park more efficient. The system is expected to set a new standard in how waste is handled in the world’s busiest urban parks.

Waste management is a crucial part of caring for Central Park; since 1980, the number of annual Park visitors has tripled to nearly 40 million, and almost 2,000 tons of non-recyclable waste were removed by the Central Park Conservancy in 2010 alone.
The system will include the replacement of existing waste and recycling receptacles in Central Park with newly designed and infinitely recyclable aluminum receptacles. In addition to the Foundation contribution, Alcoa is donating aluminum to manufacture the recycling containers and enclosures and has enlisted Stephen Leonard, Design Practice Leader at Alcoa Technical Center, located near Pittsburgh, to serve as design adviser of the new bins. With his help, Central Park Conservancy identified Landor Associates as the design firm.
“We are excited to collaborate with Central Park Conservancy on an important initiative that will enhance the Central Park experience for millions of visitors,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alcoa. “By developing a system that incorporates sustainable and recyclable material with light and durable functionality, we aim to provide a blueprint for urban parks and public spaces around the world.”
'With more visitors coming to Central Park than ever before, waste must be managed in the most sustainable and efficient way as possible. That means more recycling, strategically placed receptacles, and innovative design,' said Doug Blonsky, president and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. 'Thanks to Alcoa’s support, we'll be able to introduce a system to Central Park that improves the Park experience enjoyed by nearly 40 million people every year.'
Alcoa and the aluminum industry have a goal to increase can recycling rates in America to 75 percent by 2015. Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation have distributed more than 75,000 recycling bins and invested nearly $3.5 million in the last five years to community recycling programs across the country.
The Central Park Conservancy and Alcoa plan to familiarize local communities and visitors with changes in recycling and waste management through public outreach. An increase in the number of park-wide recycling receptacles will encourage the responsible disposal of bottles, cans and paper by visitors, encouraging visitors to engage with Central Park in an environmentally friendly way. The system also will facilitate the flow of visitors along paths.
This effort will be the latest in the Conservancy’s movement over decades to improve trash management in Central Park. Since its founding in 1980, the Conservancy has removed waste receptacles from Park playgrounds to decrease rodent activity; removed the receptacles from major lawns to improve collection efficiency; broadened its precedent-setting “zone management” system, which divides the Park into 49 areas, each managed by its own zone gardener, to include waste removal; and embraced a ‘Carry In, Carry Out’ program that made visitors partners in keeping Central Park litter-free by carrying their trash out of playgrounds, woodlands, and landscapes.
The Conservancy plans to increase the number of receptacles in Central Park during peak seasons, weekends, and holidays and during major events in anticipation of spikes in the number of Park visitors.