Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, adds more recycling bins

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa, adds more recycling bins

Grant from Keep America Beautiful and the Coca-Cola Co. brings city’s recycling bin total to 50.

April 19, 2017
Recycling Today Staff
Association news Financing/grants Municipal Recycling
Recycle DSM, a partnership between the city of Des Moines, Iowa, and its Operation Downtown, has announced the addition of 42 recycling bins in the city’s downtown area. The new bins will be placed in the Historic East Village and the Western Gateway.

Recycle DSM says it aims to create a “cleaner and greener” downtown Des Moines. The program began in October with eight receptacles in the Historic East Village and has expanded to 50 bins in April thanks to a grant from the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant Program. The program awarded a grant for recycling bins to Operation Downtown, with the city of Des Moines Public Works Department also providing additional investment to expand Recycle DSM. 

“The Recycle DSM program aligns with the city of Des Moines’ comprehensive plan called PlanDSM, which calls for the reduction of solid waste headed to the landfill,” says Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. “We are grateful to the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant Program, which is making this significant expansion possible.”

The Recycle DSM program builds off existing efforts that include cigarette butt recycling through Operation Downtown and recycling at various downtown events, in addition to efforts by residential and commercial property owners to offer recycling options to their residents and employees. The expansion of the existing program extends recycling from the residential and commercial to the public realm. 

In addition to the recycling bins, sidewalk art installed throughout East Village and Western Gateway encourages residents and downtown workers and visitors to recycle, according to Recycle DSM. The art includes phrases such as “Eat.Drink.Recycle.” and “The future is in your hands—Recycle DSM.”

“A greener downtown makes this a more attractive place for residents, workers and visitors,” says Tiffany Tauscheck, chief communications officer for the Downtown Community Alliance, which manages Operation Downtown. “We encourage downtown Des Moines patrons to use these receptacles to help keep downtown Des Moines clean, safe and beautiful.”

The Coca Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant Program addresses one of the primary barriers to recycling in public spaces by making access to recycling bins more readily available and convenient.

In total, the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant Program will provide 3,522 recycling bins to colleges and universities, along with 996 bins to local governments and nonprofit organizations during the 2016-2017 grant cycle. The recycling bins are made possible through a grant from The Coca Cola Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Co. 

More than 45 percent of the bins are designed specifically for permanent, ongoing use in public spaces such as athletic fields, K-12 schools, fairs and festivals, special events and park settings, with the remaining 55 percent to be used by students in college residence hall settings. The program is expected to result in an estimated 1 million pounds of recyclable materials collected during their first year in use, according to the program.

“The No. 1 thing we can do to get people to recycle is make it convenient,” adds Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful, Stamford, Connecticut. “With Coca-Cola’s continued support, the grant program addresses that need by creating thousands of new opportunities for people to recycle in public areas across the country.”

Bruce Karas, vice president of sustainability, Coca-Cola North America, says, “At Coca-Cola, we are working with partners across the country to invest in and support a strong recycling system. Through partnerships like the Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant program, we can help reduce overall waste by making it even easier and more convenient for people to recycle both at home and in public spaces.”  

“We are pleased to be a part of this very important program,” adds Kirk Tyler, chairman and CEO of Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Co., a privately owned, independent bottler and distributor of Coca-Cola products for nearly all of Iowa, as well as parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri. “An investment in downtown Des Moines is an investment in greater Des Moines, and it is our hope that these receptacles will be utilized by residents, employees and visitors alike as they enjoy downtown.”

The Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant Program addresses lack of convenient recycling receptacles by providing a significant number of bins in strategic locations. Including the 2016 grants, more than 49,000 recycling bins will have been placed by the program in 925 communities nationwide since its inception in 2007. In addition to the grants, Keep America Beautiful provides technical best practice guidance to grant recipients and organizations about setting up effective away-from-home and on-the-go recycling programs. 

Keep America Beautiful chose grant recipients based on their potential to collect the most cans and bottles as well other considerations such as the extent of their need, recycling experience and their ability to sustain the program in the future. A full list of the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant recipients, as well as Keep America Beautiful’s best practices guide, “Designing Effective Public Space Recycling Programs,” are available at

Behavioral research has shown that two of the primary barriers that stop people from recycling are the lack of convenient opportunities and confusion about what and how to recycle, according to Keep America Beautiful. A 2009 study conducted by the organization showed 12 percent of surveyed public locations had infrastructure to recover recyclable items. This lack of recycling opportunities is reflected in a separate national survey conducted for Keep America Beautiful in 2013, in which 92 percent of respondents said they recycle at home while 41 percent indicated that they typically recycle in public spaces. In addition to providing more convenient opportunities to recycle, the Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant helps to address the issue of confusion by providing bins that incorporate recognized best practices for bin design and labeling.