Green Neighbors: Public Recycling Program Creates a Better Downtown

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

By DowntownDC

It’s never been easier to be green in Downtown DC, thanks to a partnership between the DowntownDC BID, PepsiCo, and the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW).

In March 2011, the three groups partnered to create a comprehensive recycling program for Downtown DC. Through its nationwide Dream Machine recycling initiative, PepsiCo donated 363 recycling bins now in use throughout the 138-block DowntownDC BID area. The containers, which have signage indicating they are for recycling only, are for paper, aluminum cans, and plastic and glass bottles.

Now, the BID is entering the next phase of the program, focused on more education. The BID is launching a year-long campaign to inform the public about what can and cannot be recycled in order to reduce contamination and increase the diversion of recyclable material from landfills and incineration.

“People know all about recycling in their homes. Placing your milk jugs, plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans and old newspapers in recycling bins is now a habit for millions of Americans,” said DowntownDC BID Director of Communications Karyn LeBlanc. “But where else do citizens generate trash? How about where they work? Or where they go for dining, attractions or just plain hanging out? Or where tourists visit? Downtown was a logical place to start this outreach program.”

The main goal of the downtown recycling bins is to provide more public opportunities to divert materials from landfills while increasing visibility of the city’s waste reduction initiatives. For a city the size of Washington, D.C. with more than 600,000 residents, almost 20 million annual visitors and tens of thousands of employees, it’s a big undertaking.

The BID's Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees (SAMs) maintain DowntownDC's recycling bins and received specialized training on recycling and sorting. They also serve as on-the-street liaisons to educate people about public recycling and the Dream Machine program. In fiscal year 2013, SAMs helped divert 53,951 bags of recyclables.


  • Recycling conserves valuable landfill space, reduces emissions from incineration and saves natural resources and energy;
  • Recycling is an environmentally responsible way to reduce trash and litter;
  • Recycling enhances the image of a business as a good corporate citizen;
  • For commercial businesses in D.C., recycling is the law. Violators could face fines ranging from $200 to $1500.

Learn more about the DowntownDC BID’s public recycling program. For more tips on recycling, visit the Sustainable DC website