The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes the World
Contact Us | For Staff

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does recycling really matter?
  2. Where can I recycle?
  3. Can I get a pickup for my indoor bins?
  4. Where can I get indoor bins?
  5. How do I get more clear bags for my indoor bins?
  6. What about materials not covered on the chart?
  7. How do I get a blue bin?
  8. What other ways can I support recycling?
  9. What happens to my recycling?
  10. How much do we make for our recycling and where does the money go?
  11. Why do the custodians throw away my recycling?

 

Does recycling really matter?

Recycling is part of reducing the overall waste stream from the UT campus. The university community values recycling because it reduces our carbon impact and is an important way for us to contribute to a greener economy.

Our 2008 Greenhouse Gas Inventory revealed that the waste going to our landfill makes us responsible for nearly 3,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year. Reducing our waste going to landfill is the simplest way to reduce this carbon impact.

Paper, aluminum, and plastics #1 and #2 are easily and quickly recycled into new products and are usually in demand. Recycling generally provides raw material to manufacturers that is less energy-intensive to produce than extracting virgin materials from the earth, particularly in the case of aluminum, scrap metals, and paper. Innovative uses of used plastics pop up all the time, so providing our hundreds of thousands of pounds of recycling can help manufacturers stay afloat and grow.

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Where can I recycle?

You can recycle just about anywhere on campus. Currently, there are 37 outdoor locations on campus, with at least 13 more to be added in fall 2010. Use the Campus Recycling Stations Map for the nearest location. Facilities Services employs a combination of student and full-time staff to service the bins each morning from Monday-Friday. Your department may also maintain indoor locations.

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Can I get a pickup for my indoor bins?

Facilities Services currently does not provide pick up service for indoor bins with the exception of the steel (metal) bins. These bins are silver-colored and have University of Texas labels on them. Custodial employees check these bins nightly and empty as needed. If you have any questions or concerns about steel bin recycling contact recycling@austin.utexas.edu.

All other recycling bins are the responsibility of building volunteers for can and bottle recycling. These volunteers empty the bins and carry the contents to an outdoor three-part bin.

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Where can I get indoor bins?

The university-standard, “official” steel indoor bins are arriving on campus as financial resources permit. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot respond to requests for placement; we are working with Custodial Services and Recycling & Sustainability staff to place one bin set near a main thoroughfare in each academic & general use building. After this goal is achieved, we will collaborate with the campus community to place more bin sets strategically, in areas where they will be used frequently. Preliminary studies show that around 800 sets are needed to cover the main campus, so we ask for your continued patience as we implement all aspects of this initiative.

Departments have the option to purchase steel bin sets. For pricing and further details contact recycling@austin.utexas.edu.

The “blue-bin” system will remain in place for paper recycling. The use of blue bins for can and bottle recycling is under review, but until further notice, you may request blue bins on line (EID required). Blue bins are available in 13 and 41 quart sizes and 23 gallon size. All are free to campus offices.

We encourage individual offices to purchase break-room and private suite recycling systems from one of our vendors such as Office Max, as these systems are designed to collect cans and bottles much more efficiently than the blue bins.

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How do I get more clear bags for my indoor bins?

You may request more bags at the blue bin request site (EID required).

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What about materials not covered on the chart?

Materials not covered on the Recycle Right Chart include items such as alkaline batteries and glass.

Rechargeable batteries, along with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), are handled by Environmental Health and Safety. Rechargeable batteries and CFLs should not enter the landfill waste stream because they contain dangerous metals. Download a Chemical Request for Disposal form.

Single-use batteries. Common single use (alkaline) batteries (AA, DD, etc.) are not classified as regulated waste. Federal legislation in the early 1990s removed mercury from these batteries because of landfill concerns. Therefore, there is no official single-use battery recycling program in operation for the whole campus. However, recycling options are available, and Facilities Services endorses the practice of recycling single-use batteries. Wherever possible, departments and individuals are encouraged to switch to rechargeable batteries. These batteries save money and are also valuable to recyclers. Here are a few options for departments and programs that cannot switch to rechargeables:

FREE Options

All-Inclusive Options

Departments may use a ProCard to purchase pre-paid shipping containers in various sizes from these vendors. You may also contact the vendor directly if you would like to explore other payment methods.

Glass: UT Austin currently does not recycle glass because glass produced on an average day on campus is a tiny fraction of our waste stream, and glass is not easily recycled in Texas. Generally, it is ground for cullet and sold as mulch--the material is not fully reclaimed. Waste reduction efforts by the Division of Housing and Food Services and the Texas Exes have resulted in even less glass being sold on campus. Facilities Services is actively investigating single-stream recycling options and, ideally, glass will be included in our recycling services in the next few years.

Other plastics: There is no on-campus recycling option for plastic bags, so avoid using them by sharing extra reusable bags or giving away inexpensive bags as gifts or prizes. Avoid Styrofoam-type products whenever possible--even those labeled as a #6 plastic--as there is no nearby recycling solution.

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How do I get a blue bin?

You may request blue bins on line (EID Required). Blue bins are available in 13 and 41 quart sizes and are free to campus offices.

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What other ways can I support recycling?

The UT Campus Environmental Center and the Office of Sustainability sponsor various events throughout the year such as tailgate recycling on home game days, Earth Week and America Recycles Day.

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What happens to my recycling?

This information is confirmed for Facilities Services, Custodial Services and Recycling & Sustainability-managed waste only. UT auxiliaries such as Athletics and the Division of Housing & Food Service have their own waste management contracts.

Aluminum cans and plastic bottles go to ACCO Austin, a materials recycling plant managed by Allied Waste. Paper and cardboard go to Balcones, Inc. Document Solutions takes responsibility for the ink and toner cartridges. Rechargeable batteries are handled by Violia Environmental Services. If you have other questions contact recycling@austin.utexas.edu.

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How much do we make for our recycling and where does the money go?

Our annual recycling income depends on the market demand for our scrap metal, aluminum and paper. As of fall 2010, plastics do not have a large enough market share to provide income to the university. In 2008 and 2009, demand for aluminum also dropped low enough that comingled recyclables became zero-value. We make money only from paper. See our statistical information.

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Why do the custodians throw away my recycling?

Custodial Services staff members are trained to look for contamination. If you see them “throwing away” paper, cans, or bottles into the trash can, consider the following scenarios, and then use the contact number below if there still seems to be a problem.

If you witness staff mixing clean recyclables with trash, please report this to 471-5072 with the time and location.

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