Recycling Guidelines

Keep The Woodlands recycling program going strong by refreshing your knowledge of curbside guidelines. Above all, follow the Golden Rule of Recycling: place only the approved items in your recycling cart. Items other than those specified are considered contaminants. Common contaminants included plastic bags, tanglers (cords or string), food waste, hazardous waste, and Styrofoam. These itemsharm machinery, endanger  workers and reduce the value of the approved materials.   

Many items that don’t belong in your curbside cart can be recycled locally. Findwhere to take plastic bags, electronics, Styrofoam, batteries and more with The Woodlands Township’s Recycle More Guide.

Did you know? Half of the contamination found in our recycling is bagged recyclables. Are you collecting recyclables in a bag? Simply empty the contents into the cart. Take clean plastic bags back to grocery stores for recycling. Trash the dirty ones. Share this tip with three friends or neighbors to keep our recycling program strong. 

For more information about recycling, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/recyling 

Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:      


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov


Get the latest articles delivered right to your inbox!

Recycling Dilemma #1009: Caution, that pizza box is cheesy!

Pizza nights are a common family tradition – over 93% of Americans enjoy the cheesy pie at least once a month. And most of us think recycling the box when we’re done is the right thing to do. We are right, aren’t we? Well, sort of.  

If you are an avid recycler, and we know you are, trashing any piece of cardboard goes against your nature. But, placing cardboard and paper soaked in oil, sauce and cheese in the trash is the right thing to do! Food and grease are the most frequent and costliest contaminants in the paper recycling process.  

If the top half of the box is clean and salvageable, cut or tear off the clean part for recycling and trash the greasy part. If the extra cheese on your pizza sticks to the top and bottom the top of the box, trash it. It’s better this way! 

Please note some cities recycle pizza boxes because their recycling facility is equipped to do so and there is an end market for soiled cardboard. Greasy cardboard may work in some areas, but not in ours. Here, they only contaminate the good material. Find out more about local recycling contaminants here.  

Food-soiled pizza boxes and paper products are considered contamination. Each year, contamination costs the recycling industry over $700 million in damage to machinery, unanticipated disposal costs, inefficiency, lost time and wasted materials. 

Help keep The Woodlands recycling program successful by sharing the 4-1-1- on pizza boxes with friends and family at your next pizza party! 

Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:     

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov   

3R Recycling Drive-thru is this Saturday

Celebrate America Recycles Day at this convenient, free one-day recycling event from the comfort and safety of your own vehicle or bicycle on Saturday, November 14, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of The Woodlands High School (enter from Millennium Forest Dr). 

This recycling drive-thru event provides opportunities to recycle items that cannot be recycled in curbside carts. Refer to the list below for accepted items and guidelines. Free recycling is for residents only, please no businesses.   

Please note, for the safety of staff, volunteers and residents, the following guidelines are in place. All volunteers and staff will wear face coverings. Participants are required to wear a face covering, as well, while items are being removed from the car. If you don’t have one, we’re happy to provide one. 

This year’s Village Recycling Challenge item is Alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries. This friendly competition awards funds for scholarships to Villages with the highest participation; funds are donated by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. Please label your bag/box of batteries with your Village’s name. 

Free 1-Day Drive-thru Recycling  

Bag or box items separately by category and place them in your trunk or rear passengerside seat for safe access by volunteers. A volunteer will open the trunk or rear-side passenger door to remove items. Residents only, no businesses please.   

  • Batteries – Alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V labeled with village name. 
  • Disposable razors and packaging. See this list for examples. 
  • Eyeglasses, sunglasses and cases  
  • Oral Care Products – Toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss containers. 
  • Snack and drink pouches – Any brand with straws and pouch lids. See this list for examples. 
  • Styrofoam block packaging – No food containers or cups. 
  • Textiles – Overly worn clothing, shoes, linens, fabric scraps and other unusable textiles. Please donate any good, usable items to local charities here. 

Document Shredding  

  • Secure on-site document shredding   
  • Residential only - limited capacity (first come, first served)   
  • Recommended donation of 5 cans of food or $5 per box; benefits Interfaith Food Pantry  

Can’t make it to 3R? 

That’s ok! Check out the Recycle More Guide for a list of local recycling opportunities. Remember, if someone else can use these items, donate first

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Recycling Dilemma #1008: Plastic bags and film – Friend or Foe?

Paper or plastic? Environmentally conscious shoppers know the answer: none of the above. They know reusable totes beat paper or plastic every time. Forgoing plastic bags at the store has a big impact. But what about all the other plastic packaging in our lives? Film that wraps itself around our favorite snacks, air pillows and bubble wrap mailed to us daily, and newspaper bags magically appearing on our driveway.   

While it is most important to reduce our consumption of single use plastics such as bags and film, it’s nearly impossible to avoid these stretchy, sneaky plastics. They’re everywhere. Yet, they can’t be recycled in our curbside carts. They can, however, be easily recycled at local stores.  

Are these plastics all foes to the planet, or could they be recycled and reimagined as an eco-friendly material?  

The plastic bags and film that you recycle at the store are sold to manufacturers. They take on a second life as bottles and containers, plastic lumber, picnic tables, lawn furniture, playground equipment, recycling bins and more. Trex combines recycled film with reclaimed woods to create a wood-alternative decking and railing used in local parks, pathways and backyard patios.  

See how companies like Trex are reimagining plastic film as an Eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood lumber. 

Recycle these plastic films if they are clean and dry only: 

  • Air Pillows and Bubble Wrap 
  • Case Wrap, Pallet/Stretch Wrap 
  • Newspaper and Magazine Sleeves 
  • Bags on Clothing or Electronics 
  • Dry Cleaning Bags 
  • Bread Bags, Produce Bags, Food Storage Bags (but NOT frozen food or salad bags) 
  • Grocery/Retail Bags & Other Film Packages 

Please only recycle film that is clean and dry. Moisture causes mildew on film and cannot be accepted at stores. For a printable guide, click here.

Plastic bags and film can be recycled at participating locations such as all grocery stores in The Woodlands, the Precinct 3 Recycling Facility and department stores such as Walmart and Target. Look for a receptacle near the entrance or ask staff at the service desk.  Please note, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some locations may not be accepting plastics at this time. If either is the case, please collect your bags/wraps at home until events change. Bags/wraps can be compressed and stored inside another plastic bag. 

Plastic bags and bagged recyclables are not accepted in our curbside recycling cart program because sorting equipment is not designed to process it without damaging equipment or creating hazardous work conditions for staff. Find more information in Recycling Dilemma #1004 – To bag or not to bag

Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:    

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov  

Recycling Dilemma #1007 K-Cups: How to stay caffeinated, sustainably

In 2013, roughly 10 billion Keurig brand coffee pods were sold. Popularity of single serving coffee makers has grown since then and manufacturers of pods are hesitant to reveal how many are sold annually. It is estimated that the amount of coffee pods, or K-Cups, in landfills could wrap around the planet 10 times! (The Story of Stuff) Imagine all the wasted coffee grounds that could be composted and all the aluminum and plastic could have been recycled into new products.

We love the convenience of coffee pods, but it comes with a cost: coffee pods cannot be recycled through our curbside program and are considered a contaminant. While some brands label their pods “recyclable” that holds true only in select communities with coffee pod recycling programs.  Currently, those programs are not operating in our region. 

Why cant I recycle them curbside? 

  1. Multiple materials comprise a coffee pod: an aluminum top, paper filter, coffee grounds and a plastic cup. Each material must be separated to be properly recycled, a process too complex for the current technology at standard recycling centers. 
  1. Although our curbside program accepts plastic and aluminum, both the plastic cup and aluminum components are too small to be properly sorted at the recycling facility. Anything smaller than 4 inches by 4 inches (like a post-it note size) falls through a screen and is landfilled with other small contaminants and residue.  

There is a way! 

You can recover your coffee pod aluminum by combining it with other clean aluminum into a ball 4” or larger and place it in your cart.  

Compost the coffee grounds and paper for a great soil additive. 

Take advantage of the one of several mail-in opportunities. These services separate the plastic and aluminum for recycling and the coffee and filter for composting. Check with the coffee pod maker for a free mail-in program. Terracycle, Recycle A Cup, and Grounds to Grow On also provide this service. 

Reduce your use 

If you’re ready to kick the single-use habit and reduce waste

Try another brewing method. Some coffee machines are compatible with a refillable K-cup or coffee pod option. French press espresso makers are capable of making smaller quantities of coffee and require no single use materials to brew.  

Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:   

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov