A study found numerous opportunities to dispose of trash in public places in Hubbard County, but very few to recycle.

Hubbard County’s Minnesota GreenCorps volunteer, Laura Wessberg, shared the results of a public space recycling assessment with county commissioners on Tuesday.

Most of the study was conducted by Deanna Johnson, who completed the Master Recycling and Composter program in early spring. As part of her required 30 hours of voluntary service, Johnson performed a survey of waste and recycling containers in Park Rapids, Nevis, Akeley, Laporte, Lake George and Dorset.

Among the 17 public places included in the project were various parks, the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, wayside rest areas, Akeley’s city campground and Mantrap State Forest Campground.

“The purpose of the survey was largely to evaluate the extent of use of these containers and to see if recycling opportunities were available,” states their written report.

Johnson observed the number and type of containers, usage, clear and visible signage, whether trash was mixed with recycling or vice versa, and whether there was litter in the area. A worksheet was completed for each site.

The most encouraging initial finding, Wessberg said, was the lack of litter in public spaces. Only Rice Park had a small amount of litter. “So the sites seem to be managed well and people seem to be using the trash bins that are there.”

They found the vast majority of containers – 62 out of 67 – are for trash only. County and city municipalities are not providing recycling containers. Only two sites – the Park Rapids chamber and Akeley campground – currently offer recycling.

“Eighty-five percent of the trash bins had recyclables mixed in them. There’s definitely recyclables out there that could be captured. People just aren’t being given the opportunity,” Wessberg said.

All five of the recycling bins were uncontaminated; in other words, no trash was mixed into them.

Wessberg and Johnson recommend starting a pilot program to increase the number of recycling bins at a few select sites.

“We thought the Red Bridge Park would be a good opportunity,” Wessberg said. “Another area we thought would be ideal would be the Laporte picnic shelter.”

They proposed placing a few extra bins for recycling and monitoring usage. There is also a need for more visible signage, preferably at eye level, she added.

Solid Waste Administrator Josh Holte said the pilot project could be “easily incorporated with our recycling routes, so we’ll try to get that off the ground. It should be very little cost to do that.” He anticipated starting this fall or next spring.