How To Recycle

You've decided it's time to recycle or maybe you just need more information. Great!
We've put together some Easy Steps to Recycling, that will help get you moving in the right direction. For a more detailed listing of recyclables, please check out our What is Recyclable page. Also, you can check out Creative Reuse Ideas for ways to recycle or reuse a variety of items.

Recycling doesn't have to be a big commitment. Just think, the few seconds a day you take to recycle will have a positive impact on the health, safety and cleanliness of your community - not to mention, the future of our environment!

3 Easy Steps to Recycling

  1. Learn What to Recycle

    Paper, Cardboard, Plastic Bottles and Jugs, Metal Cans
    It can be confusing to know what is recyclable in every situation, so we have created a list of commons items that are always accepted or not accepted in curbside recycling programs in the North Texas DFW area.
    Check out our What is Recyclable page.
    Remember: always check with your city, county or recycling service provider for specific guidelines.
  2. Empty. Clean. Dry.

    All containers should be empty, clean, and dry before recycling. They don't need to be perfect, but if there is food residue give it a quick rinse. This reduces contamination (recyclable items that become no longer recyclable) in recycling collection which increases the value of the items and supports the economy. You don't want liquids to get your paper and cardboard wet (or moldy) in the recycle bin so let items air dry before going in your bin.
    *Pro recyler tip: You can have a small open trash can/recycle bin next to your trash can for recyclable items and when that gets full, empty it into your large roll cart or bin. This can act as your drying location for rinsed items and also reminds to to think about what you are putting in your trash can at home.
  3. Ready for the Bin

    Containers are empty, clean and dry. Paper and cardboard items are not wet or soiled. Cardboard boxes have been flattened. Make sure you don't bag your recyclables, keep all items loose in the bin. Keep your bin covered so rain doesn't make everything wet.


Give yourself a high five, you're saving the planet and boosting the economy!


The Pick-up

Most cities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area offer curbside recycling pick-up for single family homes along with your regular trash pick-up. However if you live in an apartment or in a city that does not offer curbside recycling pick-up you can use our Recycling Facility Locater tool to find a recycling location near you.

I recycled…now what?

Good Job! Your decision to recycle will have a tremendously positive impact on our environment.

After you properly dispose of your recyclables, they will be taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). At the MRF, the recyclables are sorted and separated by hand and/or machine into different types of materials. The MRF then sends each item to (re)manufacturers as raw materials, and they make it into brand new products.

Did you know? When plastic bottles are recycled, they can be made into lots of things:
t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, insulation for jackets and sleeping bags, carpeting, or new bottles. It takes about 10 bottles to make enough plastic fiber to make a cool new t-shirt. It takes 63 bottles to make a sweater.

What Happens After Recycling Bins Are Picked Pp?

Once your local curbside pickup occurs, you may wonder what happens to your rinsed-out cans and milk jugs. After the recycle collection trucks finish their rounds, they will deliver the recyclables to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF - pronounced "Merf").

Upon arrival at the MRF, the recyclables will be loaded onto a conveyor belt. As the conveyor belt makes its way forward to the sorting machine, employees of the facility are stationed at the conveyor belt, pulling items out that are not recyclable and could damage or break the sorting machine. According to a 2019 waste characterization study, the most commonly found items they have to pull out are garden hoses, chains, single use plastic bags, propane tanks, food, yard waste, and needles. While there are sets of helping hands to do this job, it can be dangerous as not all unrecyclable items can be pulled fast enough and could still make it’s way into the machines, causing damage. Some of the worst known offenders that MRF’s see are dirty diapers or medical needles/syringes (usually from at home or personal use).

Once the machinery has sorted the recyclable materials, each category of recyclables are processed and bailed based on the type of material. These bails of recyclables are sold to another processor that converts the items to a usable material, or to manufacturers for them to use rather than purchasing virgin materials.

Every time you recycle an empty, clean and accepted item, you are helping the environment and the economy!

Infographic - what happens beyond the recycling bin