It’s a similar struggle for many: you walk to the recycling bin, look at the item in your hand, and ask yourself, “Is this recyclable?”
As climate change in Austin becomes more apparent, people may find themselves tossing plastic cutlery, polystyrene and even HEB plastic grocery bags into the recycling in hopes they will be diverted. from the landfill and become something useful again.
The process of throwing non-recyclable items into the recycling bin is known as “wishcycling,” and it actually does more harm than good. On this National Recycling Day, the American statesman asked the city some of the most burning questions about what goes into the blue trash or, for apartment dwellers, the city’s recycling dumpsters.
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Which plastic objects can be recycled?
Austin residents are encouraged to recycle hard plastics, such as water and soda bottles, jars and pots, toys that aren’t battery-powered, buckets, baskets and lawn chairs .
If you are recycling a plastic bottle or pitcher, remember to close the cap tightly when you put it in your blue bin. If you place the bottle cap separately from the bottle, the cap cannot be processed by the recycling machines.
Are red Solo cups recyclable?
A survey by HomeAdvisor found that Austin-area residents are most curious about whether red Solo cups are recyclable.
In Austin, red Solo cups can be recycled with the city’s regular pickup service. So after your next holiday party, don’t hesitate to throw them in your blue bin.
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Can I recycle plastic bags?
The answer to this question is no – and yes. The City of Austin does not allow plastic bags, including freezer bags or any type of plastic grocery bags, in its residential recycling because they often get stuck inside machines and break them. .
So what can you do with all those plastic grocery bags once their lifespan has run out?
Grocery stores often accept unwanted plastic bags and recycle them in ways that don’t damage sorting machines. The Austin Recycling and Reuse Depot Center at 2514 Business Center Drive in Southeast Austin does the same. The centre, near Ben White Boulevard and Todd Lane, accepts all plastic bags, but drop-off appointments are required. Appointments can be easily made online at austintexas.gov/dropoffschedule.
City leaders are still encouraging residents to stop using plastic bags altogether, asking everyone to switch to reusable bags instead.
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What about polystyrene?
Styrofoam is recyclable, but again, not in the blue bin. This item requires special handling, so it must be dropped off by appointment at the city’s recycling and reuse center. This includes polystyrene packaging, cups and take-out containers, as long as the items are clean and dry.
Styrofoam packing peanuts are too small to process, so you should reuse them or avoid them altogether whenever possible. “We recommend replacing styrofoam with reusable items or other materials when possible,” city officials said in a statement. “For example, you can bring your own reusable container to take home leftovers rather than using the styrofoam container provided.”
This city recycling idea also makes the case for a subscription to Statesman: “Consider reusing newsprint as packing material rather than buying packing peanuts.”
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The mid-terms are over; How do I recycle my election signs?
Bring your election signs to the Recycling and Reuse Drop-Off Center to be recycled; no appointment is necessary for these items. There will be a collection box out front for signs only (corrugated plastic signs and the metal frames that hold them will be accepted).
What common items should be in the recycling bin, but often aren’t?
“Glass bottles and aluminum cans can be recycled an infinite number of times; they do not degrade or lose quality when recycled,” city leaders said. “However, they take thousands of years to break down in the landfill.
“Not only is aluminum 100% recyclable, it also uses 95% less energy to recycle an old can into a new one. But Americans still throw away over a million tons of aluminum every year. “
What about old batteries and electronics?
Used batteries and electronics should never be placed in a residential recycling bin, as they can easily start fires in sorting facilities.
Many electronic devices are accepted at the city’s recycling and reuse drop-off center.
People with electronics that are still usable can search Austin’s Reuse Directory to find a place to donate, sell, repair or rent used items. Residents of Austin, Cedar Park, and Round Rock all have access to directory locations.
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Can I recycle plastic cutlery?
Every plastic fork, spoon or knife you put in your recycling bin will eventually end up in the landfill. These items are too small to recycle, so residents should actively try to avoid using them.
Purchasing a set of reusable travel cutlery can help reduce the estimated 40 billion pieces of plastic cutlery thrown away every year.
I don’t have a compost pick-up; what should I do?
Items that should only go to compost include greasy pizza boxes, soiled towels and other papers. These items, unfortunately, must go in the trash if composting is not available. But if the top of the pizza box is free of grease and food, it can be torn up and recycled.
For apartment dwellers who want to learn how to compost, there are several do-it-yourself compost bins available for under $100. You can then compost at home, turning food scraps and soiled paper products into new soil for your garden or houseplants.
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