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. In 2021, Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) collected 63,030 tons of recycling, through curbside collections from 209,981 residential homes.

Overall, the city of Austin recycles at a rate that hovers around 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. This effort reflects the City of Austin’s commitment to a zero-waste goal to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills by 90% by the year 2040.

You can do more than recycle cans to turn scrap metal into cold hard cash! Scrap metal recycling, particularly in bulk, can help individuals and organizations build a nice little nest egg to build wealth or offset overhead costs. You may not be able to squeeze blood from a stone, but you can certainly get a nice chunk of change from your scrap metal haul.

That’s why 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 Austin. Use it to help you take the guesswork out of recycling so you can line your pockets with cash while doing your civic duty when it comes to Austin, Texas recycling.


Whether it’s waste paper from the office printer or that catalog 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 non-renewable 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 one ton of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. With greenhouse gasses 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.


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 compromising product integrity. In many cases, it takes only a few short weeks for recycled metal to be melted down, reformed and redistributed as new products.

Metal recycling can be done at home on a small scale for the environmentally conscientious. When putting metal out for curbside recycling, you can include household products like:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Steel and aluminum food containers
  • Tin foil containers
  • Tin foil balls larger than two inches

Keep in mind, though, that the curb isn’t your only option for recycling metal. For those hoping for a more immediate tangible return on their metal recycling investment, recycling scrap metal at your local scrapyard dealership center can become a source of income. This applies to manufacturing companies with large-scale projects that produce a sizable amount of scrap metal. It is also applicable to home appliances that aren’t accepted by Austin recycling centers.

Some common household items and appliances containing precious metals in the manufacturing industry include:

  • Copper piping and tubing
  • Aluminum or copper pots and pans
  • Stainless steel appliances, steel pipes or steel sheets
  • Brass plumbing
  • Ceiling fan motors
  • Copper TV yokes
  • Power Outlet Bars that contain copper
  • Transformers
  • Outdoor Furniture
  • Framing and screen doors
  • Items made from tin or tin alloys—pewter and solder—like tableware, trays, or decorative ornaments

At Gardner Metals Recycling, we accept almost any kind of metal you can find at home, and we pay you for the privilege!

Austin Recycling Schedule

You’ll need to enter the information for your residential address using the ARR residential curbside collection schedule, which can be accessed here. For other services like bulk recycling, the City of Austin Universal Recycling Ordinance (URC), and yard trimmings collection, check the Trash and Recycling homepage.

Austin Recycling Guide FAQ

Here’s some guidance on the most frequently asked questions about recycling in Austin:

Are trash bags recyclable?

Trash bags cannot be included in your curbside recycling. However, they can be taken to a location at a Store Drop Off that specifically accommodates this type of recycling.

Can I put my recycling in a trash bag?

It should seem counterintuitive to put recyclable materials into a plastic trash bag. Not only does plastic require a specialized recycling process, but loose bags also get stuck in the machines that sort the recyclables. When the bags get stuck, it causes the machine to jam and stop working.

Can glossy paper be recycled?

As long as the paper does not have a plastic coating, it should be accepted by Austin recycling. A simple litmus test to see if the paper is recyclable can be done by tearing the paper. If the paper doesn’t tear easily, it probably isn’t recyclable and may have a plastic coating.

Can photographs be recycled?

Photographs and negatives cannot be recycled and should be placed in the waste bin.

Can spiral notebooks be recycled?

If the spiral is made from metal, it can be taken to a recycling center. You’ll need to separate the spiral from the paper, cardboard or plastic part of the notebook. If the spiral is made from plastic, it will need to be thrown away.

Which color trash can is for recycling?

Green or blue are the most commonly used colors for recycling bins, but they can vary based on region or locality. Apart from color, check for the arrow recycling emblem that can usually be found on the side of the recycling bin.

Can keys be recycled?

As keys are made of brass or a nickel-brass mixture, you can take them to your local scrap metal recycler.

Can wood be recycled in a blue bin?

Wood cannot be recycled with your other curbside items. However, they can be taken into most recycling centers.

Can you put metal in a recycling bin?

Depending on the size of your item, metal can sometimes be included in your Austin recycling. However, larger scrap should be taken to a scrap yard to be handled properly. You can also get money for it.

Can you recycle porcelain?

Porcelain cannot be included in your curbside recycling and must be taken to a center that specializes in porcelain disposal.

Can I put glass bottles in a blue bin?

Glass bottles can be recycled in blue designated recycling bins or deposited in bottle banks.

Can you put clothes in the blue bin?

Don’t put clothes and shoes in your blue recycling bin—use your local textile recycling bank.

Can Styrofoam go in a blue bin?

Styrofoam items cannot be included in your curbside recycling. It’s incredibly difficult to recycle styrofoam, so out of the 3 R’s, reduce and reuse is the most effective way to recycle your styrofoam.

Can you recycle rubber hoses?

Like plastic bags, rubber hoses can cause recycling jams and tangles. Additionally, rubber hoses are often mixed with other materials that cannot be recycled. You can, however, recycle the ends of rubber gardening hoses which are typically made from metals like brass. As for the rubber hose part, you can find a creative way to reuse it.

Where Can I Recycle Metal?

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!