San Antonio Waste Management combating Fiesta parade littering by encouraging recycling

Program hands out recycling bags to paradegoers

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio knows how to party.

The Battle of Flowers and Fiesta Flambeau parades combined attract more than 1 million people. But the thousands of people along the Fiesta parade routes mean thousands of pounds of trash are also accumulated.

Last year, the Battle of Flowers and Flambeau parades combined generated nearly 80 tons of waste.

Picture this:

One elephant weighs 5 tons. Fiesta trash would equal 16 elephants in weight. That’s a lot of trash.

“We want all of the residents and visitors to have the time of their lives. We just ask that they help us,” said Marcus Lee, marketing manager for San Antonio Waste Management.

In 2017, San Antonio Waste Management started giving out paper bags along the parade route to encourage Fiesta partiers to recycle their plastic bottles and aluminum cans instead of throwing them away. And recycling has gone up.

In 2017, 11% of Fiesta waste was recycled. In 2018, however, that number went up to 16%.

“They are very favorable numbers. Of course, anything we can divert from the landfill, that's the whole goal,” Lee said.

Participants of the program get two paper bags and must fill up both of them with only plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Then they can turn them in to one of the sites along the parade routes to get a free, light-up Fiesta medal.

Here is a map of all of the locations and a picture of the medal:

Lee said the locations will be marked with large flags. He said it's not just Fiesta when the city is encouraging residents to recycle but all year long.

“At some point, sending things to the ground to be burned in perpetuity, it's just not sustainable," Lee said.

About the Author:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.