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Recycling and Waste Disposal  


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COMMERCIAL WASTE REDUCTION
The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) established a grant for the creation of a waste reduction toolkit to assist communities, waste managers and industry businesses to seek methods to reduce costs, environmental liability, land use and planning concerns associated with managing commercial waste. More ...

 

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Look up your Curbside Recycle Day, or Closest Recycling Drop-off Center

You can search by address for curbside recycling service, and other solid waste information.


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City of Houston Recycling Locations

A list of all the City's recycling centers, environmental service centers, and neighborhood drop-off locations.


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Accepted Items

A list of all accepted recycling materials for curbside and recycling drop-off locations. Know what can be properly recycled.


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City of Houston Reuse Warehouse

The Warenouse accepts donated construction materials, these materials are made available at no charge for use by any nonprofit organization.


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Household Hazardous Waste

Do you have left-over paint, or a half-empty bottle of anti-freeze in the garage? Make sure you properly dispose of hazardous material.


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E-Waste

Do you no longer need that old TV or computer? Make sure that you properly dispose of your electronic equipment.


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Tree Waste Program

This City is diverting usable tree waste from the landfills. Tree waste pick-up will alternate months with heavy trash pick-up.


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Recycling for your Business

Get the information you need to start a recycling program for your business. We are here to assist you.


Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Get the answer to frequent questions, and if you cannot see your question, feel free to ask us.


Recycling Guide

Recycling Guides (.pdf)

 

MATERIALS REDUCTION

•• Curbside Recycling •• Recycling Drop-Off Sites •• Neighborhood Depositories ••
Westpark Recycling Center •• Yard Trimmings Recycling •• BOPA
•• Household Hazardous Waste •• ReUse Warehouse •• Recycling FAQs ••

Curbside Recycling

Biweekly Service

Items accepted for recycling pickup


Mail, Envelopes, Home
and Office Paper

  • Flyers, computer paper, copies and envelopes
  • No dark colored or decorative: folders, cards or envelopes
  • No plastic bags or foil packaging


Plastic Bottles and Containers

  • The City of Houston now accepts plastic number 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7.
  • Less than 3 gallons
  • Remove lids, rinse and flatten
  • No plastic bags


Newspapers, Magazines, and Catalogs

  • Loose, dry, and unspoiled
  • Include all inserts
  • Remove plastic wrapping and rubber bands


Flattened Cardboard

  • Corrugated and paper board
  • No food stains
  • No beverage cartons, gift boxes,
    or styrofoam containers


Aluminum, Tin, Steel, and
Empty Aerosol Cans

  • Rinse and drain
  • Labels are OK
  • Place lids inside larger containers


Used Motor Oil

  • Drain into original container
  • Clean, non-chemical screw-top container OK
  • No empty used oil containers accepted
  • No anti-freeze liquid or containers accepted curside

Telephone Books
accepted throughout the year


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Recycling Drop-Off Sites
Drop-Off Sites are for neighborhoods without curbside recycling. The City of Houston has permanent sites where all residents (non-commercial) can bring household recyclables. Drop-off locations are the only locations where glass bottles and jars are accepted.

DROP-OFF SITE LOCATIONS

HOUSEHOLD RECYCLABLES ACCEPTED AT DROP-OFF SITES

  • Newspaper, magazines, office paper
  • Glass food and beverage bottles and jars (no ceramics or plate glass)
  • Plastic bottles and jugs ( #1 , #2, #3, #5 & #7 only - marked on the bottom)
  • Aluminum and tin cans
  • Cardboard boxes (must be flattened with packing materials removed)

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Neighborhood Depositories
Use the six Neighborhood Depository / Recycling Centers to dispose of big, heavy and bulky items, household recyclables as described to the left, tires, scrap metal and to recycle wood waste. Neighborhood Depositories are also open on weekends. Call 3-1-1 for hours of operation.

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The Westpark Recycling Center
The Westpark Recycling Center, at 5900 Westpark, is a drive-through facility where Houston residents (non-commercial) can drop off their recyclables. Currently, more than 6,000 citizens bring their recyclables to the center each month. Westpark accepts #1 - #7 plastic containers, aluminum and tin cans, BOPA materials (Batteries, Oil and oil filters, latex Paint, Antifreeze), paper, newspapers, telephone books, magazines, cardboard, computers and other residential electronic scraps (5 per customer per month), glass bottles and jars, and used tires (10 per customer per month).

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Yard Trimmings Recycling
The City of Houston Yard Trimmings Recycling Program began as a pilot program in 1993. This separate yard trimmings collection service is being offered to all citizens who receive the automated garbage collection service. Yard trimmings make up approximately 30% of the total residential waste stream in Houston . Recycling yard trimmings will save the city in landfill costs and extend the life of landfills.

GUIDELINES FOR YARD TRIMMINGS RECYCLING

  • Grass clippings, small branches, and leaves must not be placed in the automated garbage cans. They must be put in compostable bags, not weighing more than 50 pounds, and placed at the curb 3 feet away from the automated container for separate yard trimming collection.
  • Small branches may be put in bundles as long as each bundle is less than 4 feet in length, 18 inches in diameter, and not weighing more than 50 pounds.
  • Yard trimmings mixed with paper, plastic or any other type of waste will not be collected.

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BOPA - Batteries, Oil, Pain and Anti-Freeze
Through a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments, the Recycling Division has begun a "BOPA" program at the Consumer Recycling Center located at 5900 Westpark. The City of Houston now accepts "B"atteries, "O"il, "P"aint and "A"ntifreeze for recycling at the Center. The batteries accepted are car-type batteries (lead-acid); used oil up to 5 gallons and oil filters; latex paint only (sorry, no oil-based) up to ten 1-gallon cans and one 5-gallon can; and antifreeze up to 5 gallons. The latex paint accepted at the Center is recycled and used in the City's ongoing graffiti abatement program. Additionally, the Center accepts up to 10 tires for disposal, per household per month.

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Household Hazardous Waste Collection
Since 1992 the Department of Solid Waste Management, first with the Department of Health and Human Services and now on its own, has provided a way for citizens to dispose of their household hazardous waste. This waste includes such products as old paint, pesticides, cleaners and solvents. In the past the City did this by providing days when citizens could bring this waste to a site where the material would be collected for disposal or recycling.  Now, through a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council of Governments and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, the City has established the Environmental Service Center (South and North) for these disposals.

Some jobs around the home may require the use of products containing hazardous components. Such products include certain paints, stains and varnishes, cleaners, polishes, automotive products, pesticides and herbicides.

The used or leftover contents of these consumer products are known as "household hazardous waste".  More often than not, you would not want to put these wastes in the trash or down the sink. But what to do? Here are some tips to help you reduce the amount of household hazardous waste you generate and on the proper use, storage and disposal of these products:

Before you buy ...
Think about the job at hand.
Read product labels carefully.
Choose the product that is best for the job.
Buy only what you can use!

Before you use ...
Read the label and follow the directions for proper use.
Follow all safety precautions.
Use the recommended amount - more is not always better!

After you use ...
Read the label and follow directions for proper storage.
Keep lid tightly closed.
Keep product in original container with readable labels.
Share any product you can't use with a friend or neighbor.

If you must dispose of a product ...
Follow the label directions if provided.
Contact the manufacturer if no directions are provided.
See the section below "Managing Household Hazardous Wastes".
Or, contact the City of Houston Household Hazardous Waste Information Line at 713.551.7355.

How Do I Dispose Of ...

ANTI-FREEZE

  • Reuse - If the antifreeze is unused and in good condition, try to find a neighbor, friend, or family member that could make good use of it.
  • Disposal - If you live in the City of Houston , used antifreeze can be disposed of by pouring it into your toilet. The wastewater treatment plants will not be adversely affected by this. Both used and unused antifreeze can be disposed of by bringing it to the City of Houston's Consumer Recycling Center, located at 5815 SW Freeway, at Westpark. Please limit your load to 5-gallons. (You can also bring a lot of other recyclable items to this facility including used oil, latex paint, car batteries, paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, tin and phone books.)

LAWN / GARDEN CHEMICALS

  • Reuse - If the pesticide, herbicide of fertilizer is in good condition, try to find a neighbor, friend, or family member that could make good use of it.
  • Disposal - Granular (dry) fertilizer can go in your normal trash. However, make sure that it is just fertilizer and does not contain any pesticides or herbicides, such as in a "feed and weed"-type fertilizer. Unused pesticides, herbicides and liquid fertilizers should be safely stored until the next local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Day in your area. In the City of Houston , the Department of Solid Waste Management has HHW Collection Days every 3-4 months. Contact the HHW Information Line at 713.551.7355 for more details.

PAINT

  • Reuse - Try to find a neighbor, friend, family member, church or civic group that could make good use of the paint.
    • ReUse Paint Take-Away (ESC South Only)
    • Every Friday from 9 am – 12pm, paints that were brought to the ESC for disposal but appears to be in good condition is made available for citizen reuse. Citizens can take away paint at no charge. You will be required to sign a liability waiver before removing materials from the site. There is a limit of six (6) chemical items and a cart load of paint per week. This service only available at the ESC South location.
    • ReUse Chemical Take-Away (ESC South Only)
    • Every Friday from 9 am – 12pm, household chemicals and paint that were brought to the ESC for disposal but appears to be in good condition is made available for citizen reuse. Citizens can take away these items at no charge. You will be required to sign a liability waiver before removing materials from the site. There is a limit of six (6) chemical items and a cart load of paint per week. This service only available at the ESC South location.
  • Recycle - Latex paint can be recycled by bringing the paint to the City of Houston's Consumer Recycling Center, located at 5815 SW Freeway, at Westpark. This facility is open 9-5 Monday thru Saturday. Please limit your load to 1 5-gallon and 10 1-gallon buckets. Oil-based paint is not recycled at this time. (You can also bring a lot of other recyclable items to this facility including used oil, antifreeze, car batteries, paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, tin and phone books.)
  • Disposal - Latex and oil-based paint:
    • Latex paint is water-based and is non-toxic. Latex paint can be disposed of in your normal trash once it has been solidified. Latex paint can be easily solidified by mixing it with kitty litter or sawdust. This can be done in the can if there is just a little bit left in the can, or, if you have several cans or cans with a lot of paint in them, you can mix the latex paint with kitty litter or sawdust in a double-lined trash bag. Then you can just tie up the bag and put it and your empty cans in the trash.
    • Oil-based paint or paint that has the word "alkyd" on the label should be used up until none is left. This can be done by painting old boards or newspapers in a well-ventilated place.  Then the painted wood and newspapers can go into the trash along with the empty can.

BATTERIES

  • Recycle - Two types of batteries can be recycled: Lead-acid (those found in cars, boats, etc.) and Rechargeable (NiCd, LiO, etc.).
    • Lead-Acid -- Lead-acid batteries are recycled by numerous scrap metal businesses in the area and can be brought to the City of Houston's Consumer Recycling Center, located at 5815 SW Freeway, at Westpark Consumer Recycling Center and the ESC locations.
    • Rechargeable -- Rechargeable batteries can be returned to numerous businesses for recycling. We recommend you call a particular store prior to leaving to make sure they accept them for recycling.
  • Disposal - The Westpark CRC and the ESC locations will also accept lead acid (car and motorized vehicles & equipment); lithium - ion (Li-ION), nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH), nickel cadmium (Ni-CD) batteries for recycling. Batteries not listed will not be accepted. The only batteries which should be placed in the trash are household, alkaline-type batteries, (AA, C, D, etc.). Battery manufacturers have removed most of the heavy metals from this type of battery and it is safe to place these in your normal trash. 9V and 6V batteries may be safely disposed of by taping their terminals, sealing them in a plastic bag, then tossing them in the trash.

MEDICAL WASTE

  • Disposal - For help with questions on the disposal of medical wastes, contact the City of Houston Health Department at 713.640.4359. Private companies are available to dispose of medical wastes. They can be found in the Yellow Pages under the heading "Waste Disposal - Medical"

PHARMACEUTICALS

FLUORESCENT LIGHTS

  • Disposal - Small quantities can be disposed of in the trash (5-6). We recommend you wrap them in newspaper to avoid possible injury. Otherwise, if you have large quantities, please contact a private disposal firm. See "Waste Disposal - Nonhazardous", "Hazardous Materials - Disposal", and "Environmental and Ecological Equipment and Services" in the Yellow Pages.
  • The City of Houston will accept fluorescent light bulbs and tubes from residents at the North and South Environmental Service Centers , our household hazardous waste facility.

MERCURY

  • Mercury can be found in compact fluorescent lights, thermometers, thermostats and old mercury switches. These items are accepted at the Environmental Service Center. In the event mercury containing items are broken, keep children and pets away; immediately open windows in the exposed area (if possible); wearing gloves and a face mask clean up the area using rags and items that can be thrown away, this will help to prevent cross contamination into other areas of the house/building. Place items in a concealed container and then discard. Liquid mercury should be contained in a glass jar or plastic freezer type bag, then and delivered to the Environmental Service Center or nearest Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility for proper disposal.

USED OIL

  • City of Houston Curbside Recycling Program -- Used motor oil can be placed out with your green bin on your curbside recycling pick-up day. First, drain the oil into a clean, non-chemical containers. A plastic milk bottle or the original plastic container can be used (please do not use Clorox or anti-freeze containers). Then place the containers next to the recycling bin. Empty oil containers are not accepted for recycling.
  • Westpark Consumer Recycling Center -- The Westpark Consumer Recycling Center , located at 5815 Southwest Freeway at Westpark accepts used oil and used oil filters for recycling. Use clean, non-chemical containers. Maximum quantity accepted is 5 gallons.
  • Neighborhood Businesses -- Numerous neighborhood oil change centers, auto parts stores and auto repair garages accept used motor oil for recycling. We recommend you call ahead of time to make sure the location you have in mind accepts used motor oil for recycling. The maximum quantity accepted at most of these facilities is 5 gallons.

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ReUse Warehouse
Construction material accounts for 38% of the waste stream in the Houston area. The Building Materials Reuse Warehouse, a component of the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department, benefits the community by providing space for excess building materials that would otherwise be dumped in local landfills. We accept material from individuals, supply companies, and builders, and make it freely available for reuse by any non-profit organization. The Reuse Warehouse is funded in part by a grant from the Houston Galveston Area Council, a region-wide voluntary association of local governments in the 13-county Gulf Coast Planning region of Texas.

Why does Houston need a ReUse Warehouse?
More than one-third of the waste stream in the Houston area is made up of construction and demolition material, much of which could be diverted and re-used. By storing the materials until they can be used by community groups, the Warehouse will keep these valuable resources out of our local landfills. The City of Houston Building Materials Reuse Warehouse is just one of the local organizations working to keep reusable building materials out of the landfills and to put them into the hands of those that can use them. While at this time the Reuse Warehouse is only able to pass on building materials to non-profit organizations, many of these local organizations make materials available to individuals.

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FAQs

Q. How do I get a recycling bin and/or 2nd green bin?
A.
If you live in a curbside recycling area, you may request a bin by calling 311, the City's Help Line.  The 311 operator should provide you with a Service Request number for your records.

Q. My neighborhood does not have curbside recycling.  How do I get curbside recycling?
A.
Neighborhoods that would like to be considered for future recycling expansion are placed on a waiting list.  Please note that your neighborhood must be within the Houston City limits and not currently in a sponsorship program (homeowners association receives rebate from the city for garbage service); on a private street; and/or in a gated community.  We are requesting that you provide the following information (in writing) to have your neighborhood added to the waiting list.  When resources become available, you will be notified.

1. Name of neighborhood/subdivision/garbage service day
2. Name, address, phone number of a contact person
3. The subdivision must consist of at least 100 homes or be next to, or adjacent to an existing curbside recycling area with the same garbage service day.
4. Map of the desired area clearly showing all boundaries

Your letter should be mailed to the Solid Waste Management Department, 611 Walker, 12th floor, Houston, Texas 77002 Attn: Curbside Recycling Program.

Q. What items are accepted in the Curbside Recycling Program?
A.
The Curbside Recycling Program accepts newspaper, magazines, color ad inserts, office paper, unwanted mail and telephone books; tin, aluminum and empty aerosol cans; and plastic bottles and jugs with a narrow neck and broad base (marked with a #1 , #2, #3, #5 & #7 recycling symbol). 

Keeping all paper items segregated, you may place all of these materials together in your bin.  Overflow materials can be put in a separate paper grocery bag and place on top or on the side of your green bin.

Corrugated cardboard must be broken down into 3x3 foot squares.  Used motor oil, if placed in its original container or an empty 1-gallon milk or water jug will also be accepted.

Q. My neighborhood does not have curbside recycling.  Where can I take my recyclables?
A.
Neighborhood depositories / recycling centers will accept the same recyclables accepted curbside except corrugated cardboard.  The depositories do accept glass bottles and jars.

The Westpark Consumer Recycling Center will accept the same items as the Curbside Recycling Program with the addition of glass bottles, jars, anti-freeze, latex paint, and car batteries.

Q. Is there any place in the City that will accept styrofoam?
A.
Styrofoam may be recycled at the Westpark Recycling Center and the ESC South location.

Q. I have lots of plastic bags.  How can I recycle them?
A.
You may take your plastic bags to your local grocery stores.  Most grocery stores recycle these bags.

Until additional resources become available, you are encouraged to utilize the Westpark Consumer Recycling Center at 5900 Westpark, Abitibi Recycling Metro wide Newspaper Recycling Program and other recycling drop-off centers near your neighborhood.

Q. How do I start a commercial recycling program?
A. Please go to www.houstontx.gov/solidwaste/recycling/commercial.html

Q. Are windowed envelopes OK to recycle?
A. Yes. You don't need to strip out the plastic window or remove staples from paper.

Q. What kind of cardboard is acceptable?
A. Corrugated cardboards, like moving boxes, are fine. So-called "paperboard" — the thin cardboard used in cereal boxes, cracker boxes and Kleenex — also is acceptable. Pizza boxes are not OK, nor are other boxes with grease or food residue.

Q. What types of plastic are acceptable?
A
. The city recycles plastic bottles with the numbers 1 thru 5 and 7 on the bottom. Plastics 6 are accepted at Westpark and ESC-South. Flattening a plastic bottle is suggested to save space in the bin, but it's not required. Removing tops from bottles helps the truck compaction process.

Q. What about yogurt cups, butter tubs and other plastic food containers?
A. They're fine, as long as the numbers are 1 thru 5 and 7. You also may recycle detergent jugs.

Q.Bundling newspapers with twine helps me carry them out of the house. Are bundled stacks of paper OK?
A. Bundling with twine slows up the processing. Use a paper grocery bag to hold stacks of newspapers and papers instead. Or stack loose papers inside a bin.

Q. So, paper shopping bags are recyclable?
A: Yes.

Q. If I want to recycle glass, can I bring it somewhere?
A. Drop-off depositories sort the glass by color. Glass may be recycled at the neighborhood depositories / recycling centers and Westpark.

Q. Do soda cans need to be rinsed out?
A
. It's always best to rinse food and beverage containers to prevent odors and insects, but rinsing is not required for the recycling process.

Q. If I have a clean ball of aluminum foil, is it recyclable?
A. Yes, if there is no food residue on it.

Q. Do I need to separate paper, plastic, and aluminum?
A. No, all containers — bottles and cans — can be commingled. They are placed together on the collection truck and separated later at the processing center. But keep paper items separate from containers, either in a paper grocery bag or stacked in their own recycling bin.

Q. Can I get more than one bin? What is the maximum?
A. Recycling bins are provided free to residents in curbside areas. To obtain a second bin, call 311. To control costs, a customer should request no more than two. However, you can place overflow items in a one-way container, such as a cardboard box or paper bag.

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