What You Should And Shouldn’t Recycle In Austin?

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Recycle, recycle, recycle – that’s the mantra the Austinites repeat repeatedly. The pun is unintentional, but if it helps the environment, it’s hard not to jump on the bandwagon. After all, recycling is only the first part of being environmentally conscious, preceded by reducing consumption. So what are you supposed to or not to recycle? In Austin, there are several items that can be recycled; here’s what you should know about these items; 

The Contamination Issue

When a recycling center can recycle almost all materials in the blue garbage can, it can efficiently turn them into new products. However, when you add things that are not recyclable, you end up with contamination, a problem that has severe consequences for landfills and the planet. You should know how recycling works to understand why; 

Once a hauler or Austin Resource Recovery Truck (ARR) picks up the blue garbage can from your curb, it takes the contents to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The MRF sorts the individual items to remove contaminants before sending them on for further processing. There are several reasons why it is essential to sort contaminated items yourself, notably;

1. When people throw non-recyclable items into their blue garbage cans or in containers where recyclers cannot easily separate them from recyclables because they are mixed or stuck together with tape or glue (like paper plates), it costs processors money. Consumers then have to bear those costs in higher fees and taxes.

2. When you mix stuff like food with recyclables, the incinerator may not quickly sort them out. In such situations, recyclers send waste to a landfill, which beats the purpose of recycling.

The bottom line? It’s essential to check what materials belong in your recycling garbage can to make it easy for trash haulers and recyclers.

1. Items That Are Not Recyclable

The following items cannot be disposed of in your recycling garbage can:

Pizza Boxes 

If it is just cardboard pizza boxes, leave the plastic and other food waste behind.


It would help if you disposed of them at a hazardous waste site.


Dispose of it at the landfill. Better yet, look for places that accept it, like Austin Resource Recovery’s Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center.

Egg cartons

Please find out how to reuse them before throwing them in the trash.

Foil Or Plastic Packaging Of Any Kind. 

They do not decompose well in nature and are difficult to recycle because they get stuck in recycling plant machinery. They are also one of the most common household contaminants after plastic bags.

2. Recyclable Items

Here are some items suitable for recycling;

All Papers

You can recycle all papers, including newspapers, office paper, writing, and printer paper, magazines (even the shiniest ones), junk mail, paperbacks (do not forget hardcovers), envelopes (with and without windows), brown paper bags, phone books.

Cardboard Boxes (Folded Apartment)

You can also recycle cardboard boxes but ensure that you remove the plastic and Styrofoam peanuts on them. In addition, it would be helpful to remove any tapes from them.

Plastic Items

You can recycle most items made of plastic except plastic bags that get caught in sorting machines. Plastic items with #1 or #2 marks are recyclable, so check before disposing of them. They include milk jugs, berry baskets, clamshells, shampoo bottles, fruit juice bottles, and soap bottles. You do not need to remove their lids or labels. Just about any container that is not a CD box is suitable.

Note that some recycling programs also accept plastic grocery bags for recycling. Be sure to wash them out first, as they are no good if they contain food scraps. If you throw away your trash in plastic bags, the disposal companies will throw them directly into the landfill with everything else that does not belong in the trash can.

It’s no secret that Austin is a city on the rise. What was once a sleepy small town has become a dynamic center for business, technology, and quality of life. These changes have brought residents’ environmental concerns to the forefront more than ever, as Austin residents are expected to be among the most environmentally conscious users in Texas and nationwide. Recycling in Austin is an essential service that all Austin residents should take advantage of to keep the city clean and protect its natural resources. However, you should not put non-recyclable items in the blue bins. If you are unsure, check with local officials near you in charge of waste disposal.

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