Ever wonder where your recycling goes when it leaves your curb?
Comingled shipping boxes, water bottles, soup cans and cartons in The Woodlands are destined for recycling carts across our community and roll their way to the curb each week. Have you ever wondered where these materials go once Waste Management trucks pick them up?
Our recyclables are transported from the curbside cart to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Houston. Once the truck arrives, it is weighed and recorded before the contents are dumped on the tipping floor. The material is then evaluated for contamination. If the material passes inspection it’s loaded into the recycling equipment where it goes through a series of specialized sorting machines.
Watch the journey your recycling goes on.
Each machine seen in the video is specialized to recover the specific items listed on the top of your recycling cart. Any other items are considered contamination meaning they do not get recycled, jeopardize worker safety, damage equipment, and weaken our recycling program.
The most important rules to follow when recycling in The Woodlands
- Do not bag your recyclables, throw them in the cart loose.
- No plastic bags. Take plastic bags and other films to local grocery stores for proper recycling.
- Only recycle the listed items in your cart.
What’s the status of recycling in The Woodlands?
Following the National Sword in 2018, market values of all recyclables were at an all-time low and headlines such as “Recycling is Dead” made the news. Although the recycling industry has changed from foreign to newly established domestic markets in recent years, The Woodlands recycling program remains strong.
Recycling revenues are up 32% in the last quarter for Waste Management with the average commodity prices 60% higher than one year ago. Markets for materials collected in our program have remained steady. Profits are being reinvested in new technology to improve processing and supporting domestic markets.
Our recycling program received recognition for Keep Texas Beautiful in 2022 for Outstanding Public Education and Outreach for the reduction of contamination by 30% in one year following the new cart tag education program. The current two-year contamination rate is 16.5%, well below the national average 25%, which is also the threshold that would impose increased processing fees.
The Woodlands residential solid waste program recycles an average of 12,000 tons per year, composts 1,500 tons of yard waste, and landfills 34,500 tons per year. An average of 39% of waste generated in the curbside residential program is diverted from the landfill annually. How can you help prevent the remaining 61% of trash from heading to the landfill?
- Reduce the amount of waste you create.
- Remember to bring reusable tote bags, coffee cups, water bottles and other on-the-go containers or utensils.
- Shop sustainably. Choose products with minimal packaging. Purchase locally to reduce shipping material. Buy second hand, or even better, use what you have for as long as you can.
- Refuse plastic straws, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and other single use plastics.
- Donate gently worn clothing, furniture and home goods to local charitable organizations. Check out the Donation Guide for a complete list of locations and accepted items.
- Recycle right and recycle more!
- Refresh your knowledge of which items are accepted in your recycling cart.
- Recycle beyond your curbside cart. Check out the Recycle More Guide for a list of locations to take items such as mattresses, electronics, batteries, lightbulbs, wine corks, food waste, household cleaners and much more.
For questions, contact Environmental Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-210-3800.
Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:
Recycling Dilemma #1010 – Textiles
Recycling Dilemma #1009 – Recycling Dilemma #1009: Caution, that pizza box is cheesy!
Recycling Dilemma #1008 – Plastic bags and film – Friend or Foe?
Recycling Dilemma #1007 – How to stay caffeinated, sustainably
Recycling Dilemma #1006 – Online Shopping
Recycling Dilemma #1005 – Take-out Containers
Recycling Dilemma #1004 – To bag or not to bag
Recycling Dilemma #1003 – Moving Boxes and Oversized Cardboard
Recycling Dilemma #1002 – Got Stuff?
Recycling Dilemma #1001– Oversized Cardboard & Moving Boxes
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