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Billings Parks and Recreation is addressing the untidy situation at recycling bin locations



Billings, Montana – The incorrect kind of recyclables are being drawn to a city program that collects aluminum cans and newspapers in order to buy trees for neighborhood parks.

Variety of items were gathered when Trash for Trees started more than 40 years ago, but since then, the initiative has narrowed its attention to only aluminum cans and newspapers.

“Bins are taken to a recycling facility by the Solid Waste Division, and proceeds are put into a Trash for Trees fund. They are used to purchase trees for parks,” explained Steven McConnell, city forester with Billings Parks and Recreation.

Three locations in Billings have trash cans, including Stewart Park on 26th Street West, Veterans Park on 13th Street West, and Castle Rock Park on Wicks Lane. Everything has been dumped at these locations, including cardboard, plastic, glass, batteries, bags of leaves, Christmas trees, and bags of garbage.

“It significantly diminishes the profitability of these bins, and occasionally requires us to discard contents of the entire bin, wasting the efforts of everyone that contributed clean materials,” said McConnell.

Billings Parks & Recreation and the Solid Waste Division request that only unbagged, clean cans and newspapers be disposed of in the park bins, despite the fact that other recycling locations in the city of Billings accept a wider range of goods.

To help clarify this message, the program name “Trash for Trees” is no longer displayed on the bin, and instead reads “Turn Recyclables into Trees.”

The chute doors are also clearly labeled “Newspaper Only, Please NO Magazines or Cardboard,” and “Aluminum Cans Only, Please NO Plastic, Glass, or Tin.”

Also, due to the volume of waste and abuse discarded at the old location on King Avenue West in the Lowe’s parking lot, the container has been moved to Stewart Park.

3.9 million pounds of newspapers and 68 tons of aluminum cans have been collected since the launch of Trash for Trees in 1980.

2,152 trees have been purchased and planted as part of the program, which has generated $112,060.

At their headquarters at 458 Charles St. in Billings, Earth First Aid provides self-serve drop-off containers for plastics, cardboard, office paper, magazines, aluminum cans, and newspapers. At their office, glass is also accepted for an additional cost.

Yellowstone E-Waste Solutions accepts electronics in a bin with special markings at the Billings Regional Landfill.

You can also place household hazardous waste in designated containers at the dump. Clean Earth Environmental Solutions collects it, recycles it, and disposes of it correctly.

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