One of the grocery store chains in Texas is HEB. It happens to be the grocery store located in my neighborhood so it’s the one we use. We walk to it when we can. It has a recycling station.
This is what the recycling station looked like before this week. You’ll see they used to accept plastic bottles.
I’m not familiar with any recycling facility that accepts plastic bags and film, together with hard/rigid plastics in the same collection stream. In a single-stream sorting machine, the plastic bags and film would jam the sorting machinery. This mixing always bothered me and I was reluctant to recommend HEB as a bag recycling station for concern that residents would think it was okay to mix bags and hard plastics in their blue single-stream recycling carts. Bags of any kind should not go in the City of Austin blue single-stream recycling carts. The mixing still happens but hopefully a bit less.
Friday I was able to talk to the appropriate HEB employee and confirm what was going on. HEB’s contractor prior to this week did in fact separate out the bags from the rigid plastics. Seems like a lot of work, but that is what HEB’s contractor did. Starting this week that is no longer the case.
Starting this week (02/09/2020) HEB is no longer accepting hard/rigid plastics (e.g. bottles) in their recycling stations.
This change applies at least to the Austin-area. New signs are coming. The change may spread out to more stores/areas but the employee I spoke to was unable to speak on behalf of other areas.
So please always check the current acceptable items on recycling bins and carts. Curbside carts have pictures, a website and residents may call 311. Usually items are added in as processes change; however sometimes items are removed as they become issues. I watched a customer look at the modified HEB sign shown above, see there were no bottles accepted, and still throw his bottle in the plastic bag bin. It’s right next to the trash bin. Sigh. Wishful recycling does not work. He contaminated that plastic bag stream, probably costing HEB and the contractor additional funds to deal with that contaminate. He could have either thrown the bottle in the trash, or since he brought it with him take it back out with him.
Many local, state and national parks are changing to a Carry In/Carry Out mentality and policy. This is to reduce the amount of pollution in their parklands, to reduce what ends up in rivers and streams that eventually lead to the oceans (and contribute to the floating trash gyres), and due to budget cuts. So if recycling (and composting) is not available where you are, if you brought it with you, consider taking it home to recycle (compost). If you need more information on what you can recycle at home, your city’s recycling center (if they have one), or where you can mail stuff in, please see below and/or let me know. Earth 911 is helpful for recycling information if you don’t have a good city website.
City of Austin Residential Recycling / Styrofoam / Apartment Dwellers Guide
City of New Braunfels Residential Recycling / Styrofoam
City of Round Rock Residential Recycling / Recycling Center
City of San Marcos Residential Recycling / Apartment Dweller Quick Facts
Apartments should check with their provider/contractor or that provider/contractor(s) website(s) for instructions/restrictions.