Austinites can now recycle the kind of hard, bulky plastics once considered trash, city officials announced Monday....Toys, flower pots and trays, and pet carriers now all qualify for the blue recycling bins, Austin Resource Recovery director Bob Gedert said.
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Plasitc is fit for recycle bin now
City now accepts many plastic items previously relegated to landfill.
ByAsher Price ASHERPRICE@STATESMAN.COM
Austinites can now recycle the kind of hard, bulky plastics once considered trash, city officials announced Monday.
Toys, flower pots and trays, and pet carriers now all qualify for the blue recycling bins, Austin Resource Recovery director Bob Gedert said.
The move is part of Austin’s overarching goal, adopted by the City Council in 2009, to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills by 50 percent by 2015 and 90 percent by 2040.
Currently, city of Austin curbside customers keep about 40 percent of their trash out of landfills.
Austin Resource Recovery now accepts all plastics except plastic foam, bags and wrap.
The newly accepted materials are typically made out of polypropylene or high density polyethylene. Broken down and cleaned, they can remade into things like ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, plastic lumber and fencing.
“We can give our garbage another life by recycling,” Gedert said.
Leaving aside the environmental reasons for recycling, the dollars-and-cents argument depends in large part on the value of the recycled commodity.
The city pays $21.50 per ton to dispose of waste at the Texas Disposal Systems landfill. Recycling the material instead costs the city $75 to $90 per ton to process, according to officials with TDS and Balcones Resources, which process recyclables. The companies sell the material — the hard plastics currently sell for roughly $200 a ton — with the city pocketing 75 percent of the revenue.
A contract amendment with the contractors allows the city to recycle the new material.
“It’s all about the given market rate,” said Adam Gregory, a business development specialist at TDS. “Sometimes it’s cheaper to send stuff to the landfill, sometimes it’s cheaper to recycle.”
Sarah Kaylor, director of business development at Balcones Resources, said the cost of landfill disposal will only increase as landfills close.
MORE RECYCLABLE ITEMS
Austin now accepts for recycling: milk crates, laundry baskets, cups, toys (not battery-operated), flowerpots and trays, lawn furniture, dish drainers, tubs, pet carriers, buckets and trash cans. Austinites should remove metal components from plastic items, empty and clean the plastic items and fit them inside the blue recycling cart.