Playing with trash

The market for recycled materials has branched into the unlikely world of monkey bars and “Hide-and-Go-Seek.”

The California Integrated Waste Management Board has implemented a statewide plan to use recycled plastic and other materials such as old tires in the collective upgrade of California’s playgrounds.

“Equipment like slides and the horizontal ladders are going to be made out of recycled plastic,” said Lanny Clavecilla, Waste Board spokesman. Waste tires will be turned into things like safety mats to cushion the inevitable falls of over-zealous children.

Sacramento County is in the midst of renovating their most frequented parks. For example, Southgate Recreation and Park District plans to use recycled picnic tables and park benches to construct a theme for the Old Florin Town Park.

“We can use them to build a roof on the structures to make them look like cabins. … That’s one possibility,” said Judy Robinson, Southgate’s interim general manager.

For the most part, parks in the area are in good shape but need to be upgraded to meet current safety standards that went into effect January 2000, along with the regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

“As more studies have been done, we see that the need for safer playgrounds is an issue. The parks are safe, but you can have a piece of equipment from the ’90s that wouldn’t be acceptable today,” Robinson said.

Ron Cuppy, district administrator for the Carmichael Recreation and Park District, explained that each district can file an application for a grant of up to $50,000, which it has to match by a minimum of 50 percent.

Carmichael received $50,000 from the Board, which it matched with a sum of $26,800 to fund the renovation of Carmichael Park.

“It’s our flagship park,” Cuppy said. “The equipment is in pretty good shape, but there are a lot of things to upgrade to be within state safety regulations and in accordance with the ADA.”

In the California spirit of cost-effectiveness, this project also aims to boost the market for products made from recyclables.

“About 33 million waste tires a year are generated in California. What we’re trying to do is divert the problem of illegal dumping, and promote markets for these products,” said Clavecilla.

Currently, 60 percent of waste tires are recovered in California. They can be burned down and used as material for power-generating plants and in the production of cement.

“The other 40 percent still needs to find a marketing home. These park grants will hopefully help in the promotion of recycled content material,” said Clavecilla.

The Waste Board has approved $2.5 million in bonds for 56 projects throughout California so far.