Austin Recycling Guide

By now, most of us don’t need to be convinced of recycling’s benefits: converting used materials to new products is pretty much a no-brainer, since it saves valuable resources, reduces landfill waste, and keeps trash out of rivers and oceans. Austin recycling is no different. 


Luckily, Austinites have a pretty great track record where recycling is concerned. Austin’s current recycling rate is at about 42 percent—that means out of every 100 recyclable goods used by city inhabitants, 42 will be placed in recycling bins. That recycling rate leads major Texas cities. And meanwhile, the City of Austin has created an ambitious plan to raise recycling rates to 90 percent by 2040.


Making that kind of a change is going to take a lot of hard work and commitment from every single resident. We’ll all have to do our part to make sure we’re recycling as much as possible—and doing it correctly.


To help with that last part, we’ve put together a quick guide to Austin recycling that details what types of materials you can collect in your home for recycling in the city. Use it to help you take the guesswork out of recycling and do your part to help your hometown make waste recovery history.



Whether it’s waste paper from the office printer or that catalogue collection you’ve been meaning to toss, Austin recycling is here to the rescue! Almost any kind of paper product can be added to your recycling bin in the Capital City, including used wrapping paper, junk mail (with envelopes), newspapers, phone books and paper food packaging.


Recycling paper makes a huge impact on the environment. According to some estimates, every ton of paper that gets recycled equates to about three cubic yards of landfill space and saves around 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 4,000 kilowatts of energy and 7,000 gallons of water. Pretty incredible!


The average household tosses out around 13,000 pieces of paper each year, which means there’s plenty of opportunity for improvement here. When you consider how much junk mail you receive on a daily basis, that’s a lot of trees you could be saving!



Paper’s close cousin, cardboard, is also a great candidate for your Austin recycling pickup. All those boxes you got from your online purchases? Throw them in the recycling, next to your toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, or any other cardboard container—except pizza boxes. Those should go in the trash.


When you recycle cardboard, you’re not just keeping trash out of the landfill. You’re also saving resources—most notably, energy. In fact, when it comes to cardboard, recycling is much more efficient. A recycled box only requires 75 percent of the energy needed to create a new box, saving 46 gallons of oil per ton. Not too shabby!



Now we get to our favorite material: metal! The unique properties of metal make it perfectly suited to recycling. Most types can be melted down and refashioned into new products many times over without loss of fidelity. In many cases, it takes only a few short weeks for recycled metal to be melted down, reformed and redistributed as new products.


When putting metal out for curbside recycling, include aluminum cans, steel and aluminum food containers, tin foil containers, and tin foil balls larger than two inches. Keep in mind, though, that the curb isn’t your only option for recycling metal. You can actually make money by recycling your metal at your local scrap metal recycling center. Also, to take care of metals that aren’t accepted by Austin recycling centers—metals like steel appliances, copper pots and pans, steel pipes and more—bring them to Gardner Metals’ recycling facilities. We take almost any kind of metal you can find at home, and we pay you for the privilege!



Glass is another material that can skip the trash can in Austin. In fact, glass bottles, jars and other containers make some of the best candidates for recycling, since they can be refashioned into new materials over and over again without any loss of quality.


Recycling glass saves energy, but it also protects other nonrenewable resources that are used in the production of new glass products, like sand, soda ash, limestone and feldspar. And since new glass production requires very high temperatures, recycling glass reduces carbon dioxide emissions, too. According to the Glass Packaging Institute, every six tons of recycled glass saves a ton of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. With greenhouse gases on everyone’s mind, that’s some math we can use!


Hard Plastics

When you’re sorting materials for recycling, don’t forget about the plastic. In Austin, any plastics numbered one through seven can go right in the recycling bin. That includes water and soda bottles; hard plastic food containers and tubs; soap, shampoo and detergent bottles; empty medicine bottles; old lawn furniture, plastic toys, laundry baskets, flower pots, dishes and more.


Just make sure to rinse out plastics before you toss them in the bin—and keep plastic bags, styrofoam and plastic wrap out of the recycling.


For all your other recycling needs, Gardner Metals is just a click or a call away. We take household materials like ewaste, metal and PVC pipes, appliances and other products you might not be able to chuck in your recycling bin. We like to think of it as our small way of contributing to Austin’s recycling goals. Here’s to a cleaner, greener city!