Austin’s plastic promise

Wondering what happens to your plastic after you put it in the blue cart? Austin Resource Recovery trucks pick up recycling from over 200,000 homes and take it to a local Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for processing. From there, recyclables go through sorting equipment that groups them by different materials. The bales get sold to other businesses that make them into new products. While other parts of the country may be struggling to process and sell recyclables, Austin’s processors have assured us we are fortunate enough to have steady markets. Here are some real examples from our processors of what Austin’s plastic recyclables get turned into.

  • Plastic water bottles are recycled into other beverage bottles or can be used for polyester in things like clothing, carpet or backpacks. 
  • Milk jugs are recycled into new bottles. 
  • Detergent bottles are recycled into buckets, containers and flower pots. 
  • Shampoo bottles are recycled into flooring.
  • Yogurt containers are recycled into bicycle racks and plant pots.
  • Sunglasses are recycled into plastic lumber and auto parts.


What you can do to reduce plastic waste

  • Reduce the amount of single-use and hard-to-recycle (like plastic bags, plastic film or Styrofoam) plastics you use in your home.
  • Reuse the plastic you cannot avoid and give it a second life by reusing what you can.
  • Download the Austin Recycles App or use the What Do I Do With... tool to make sure you are only putting accepted plastics in your blue cart. The things that our processors don’t accept end up going to the landfill.
  • Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook  for the latest news on City programs and initiatives to help us reach our zero waste goal.

What the City of Austin is doing to reduce plastic waste

The City of Austin is committed to reducing single-use plastics, cultivating a circular economy and reaching zero waste by the year 2040. We have joined national and global initiatives aimed at rethinking the lifecycle and use of plastic in the United States and the world. We support programs that give entrepreneurs and businesses the opportunity to connect with local suppliers looking to sell their discards made of plastic and other reusable materials. We also offer rebates to Austin businesses that switch from single-use to reusable and/or compostable options.