Paper Bags: Recycle or Compost?

This has been a popular topic lately, especially because so many of us are doing curbside pickup right now.

The best and highest use for paper bags and all paper products that have absolutely no food contamination, if they aren’t reused, should go in the recycling vs. compost.

The City of Austin actually gets revenue money for the blue recycling cart contents. We get money for our recyclables! Reminder: The City of Austin gets paid for recycling, we pay to throw things in the landfill. Recycled paper will be recycled into new paper or another usable product.

Paper bags can be really helpful in your curbside compost carts. If they’re free to you consider using them to line your compost bins. You can always roll or fold the tops down to make the bag fit your compost collector type. Paper bags can also be used to collect yard trimming and plant waste in the garden, then you can drop the whole thing in your curbside compost cart. Paper grocery bags are also a great way to share in your local Buy Nothing group. Many neighbors put several bags out at time with the name of the recipient on the bag, just like school lunches!

Paper that gets composted is just composted and is considered down-cycled since the next product is less “valuable” in that it goes on plants and not another immediate thing humans use. The City of Austin does not get revenue money for compost product. That being said, any paper with food residue on it, like grease or a food leak, should go in the compost unless it has a plastic coating, then the plastic-coated food-contaminated paper goes in the trash.

The City of Austin can be fined for contaminants in both recycling and compost, costing us money instead of making us money. Please review the educational material on what can and cannot go in regularly. The new Austin Recycles app, calling 3-1-1, or the Austin Resource Recovery website can help. You can also always ask me!

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.

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