What Is Really Happening With Recycling in Plano?!
Live Green in Plano (LGIP) gets calls daily – “Are our recyclables in Plano really getting recycled?” The answer is Yes!!
In recent months the current state of recycling has been all over the news. Almost a year ago, China put a ban on accepting the United States recycling due to high levels of contamination. This ban has impacted cities all over the US, leaving recycling centers struggling to find downstream markets for their recyclables.
Plano does have a recycling program.
Based in East Plano, Republic Services, Plano’s recycling processor, is no different. Recyclables are commodities – meaning there needs to be a buyer for them to have a second life and stay out of the landfill.
Environmental Waste Services (EWS) and LGIP are working closely with Republic Services to encourage Plano residents to recycle clean, contamination-free items and only those items that are the most profitable.
How to Recycle in Plano
The Big 3 items for Recycling
Recyclable materials include Plastics, #1, #2 and #5, Paper & Cardboard, Tin & Aluminum cans – otherwise known as the “Big 3”.
These items must be clean and free of residue in order to make it through the sorting process at the recycling center, get bundled and be sold to downstream manufacturers for reuse or recycling.
It’s nearly impossible to get through a day without using plastic in one form or another – juice bottle, toothbrush, hairbrush, car parts, eye glasses, etc. Plastic is everywhere. It’s lightweight, sturdy, durable and very desirable for manufacturers. However, making first-generation plastic uses many precious natural resources, including water and crude oil. It’s better for the environment and more cost-effective to break down old plastic to create new plastic.
The plastics that currently have the most value and bring Plano revenue are
#1 (beverage plastic bottles)
#2 (laundry detergent and shampoo bottles)
#5 (dairy and yogurt tubs).
What can you do?
Rinsing them and shaking out excess water before throwing them into your cart will ensure they are Empty, Clean and Dry and ready for processing.
Do the caps need to come off? If the caps are plastic, go ahead and leave them on. Just give the lid a slight turn to remove excess air from the bottles before tightening again.
What about Plastic Bags?
No – at one point Plano was accepting plastic bags and film in the recycling cart. These are no longer acceptable. The bags get tangled up in the sorting equipment causing frequent shutdowns and loss of efficiency. Plastic bags and film can be bundled together and taken to the bins in the entries of your grocery and home goods stores.
What about Office Paper and junk mail?
If you have office paper and junk mail laying around, go ahead and recycle it. How about envelopes with clear windows? No problem – go ahead and recycle them. Magazines? Yes.
Laminated paper? No.
What about Shredded Paper? No.
Plano no longer accepts shredded paper in the recycle cart. Even if the bag of shredded paper makes it to the recycling center intact, it becomes a problem. Once the bag is broken open, the small shreds of paper end up flying around or falling through the small spaces in the sorting machinery. Very little, if any, actually gets captured and recycled. The best way to ensure your personal papers are properly destroyed and recycled is to take them to a shredding vendor.
Residents can shred two office boxes per household at Texas Recycles Day on November 16, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, in the Chase Oaks Church parking lot.
What about Cardboard?
Small cardboard boxes are also valuable and should be broken down before placing in your recycling cart. Be sure to remove any contents including packing pillows and peanuts before recycling.
Larger boxes are hard to stuff in your cart. Instead – flatten and set them out next to your yard waste bags where they will be collected and processed into healthy Texas Pure organic compost.
What about Aluminum cans?
Aluminium cans such as soda cans, and tin cans such as soup cans are very valuable commodities. The great thing about cans is that they are recyclable indefinitely, meaning over and over again with no end life. Cans should be rinsed free of food and residue, shaken lightly and tossed in your recycle cart. There is no need to remove the labels first.
Plano still accepts other items in the cart. A complete list of accepted items can be found at plano.gov/recycling.
Everyone likes to keep their indoor trash and recycling receptacles neat and tidy by lining them with plastic bags. This is fine, but when transferring your recyclables to your curbside cart, empty those plastic bags so the recyclables are placed loosely in the cart, leaving the plastic bag behind.
Once they reach the recycling center, those recyclables that are not identifiable will be sent directly to the landfill.
Top Tip: when you empty your indoor trash and recycling receptacles, toss your trash bag in the trash first, then empty your recycling bag loosely into the recycling cart. Now you can reuse the “dirty” recycling liner as your new trash bag and line your indoor recycling receptacle with a clean liner.
What items are not suitable for Recycling?
Items NOT accepted in your recycling cart:
- Landscape waste (grass clippings and tree limbs)
- Aerosol cans
- Adult and baby diapers
- Aluminum foil
- CDs / CVDs
- Ceramics (dishes, drinking glasses and vases)
- Facial or toilet tissue
- Light bulbs/fluorescent tubes
- Metallic and cellophane gift wrap
- Paper towels
- Plastic bags (return to the grocery store)
- Plastic containers used for motor oil, antifreeze or other hazardous materials
- Plastic wrap and plastic toys
- Self-sticking notes (due to the glue)
- Shredded paper (bagged only)
- Styrofoam (packaging, peanuts and cups)
- Trash bags
- Wax-coated cartons (milk and juice cartons)
- Wire hangers
- Clothing or shoes
The accepted items list on the website is updated regularly. Any items that are not on the accepted list should go in the trash. Good rule of thumb is – when in doubt, throw it out.
How can I recycling if I live in an Apartment?
If you live in a multi-family home and your complex does not offer recycling, you can take your recyclables to Republic Services, 4200 E. 14th Street, Plano. You can drop off between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday – Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
They encourage all multi-family residents to reach out to their property managers about starting an on-site collection program.
If you’re still confused, they get it!
Contact them at 972-769-4130 with any questions or feel free to attend Plano Town Hall on Thursday, November 7, 7-8 p.m where the focus will be on recycling. Representatives from Environmental Waste Services and LGIP will be on-hand to answer your questions. You can participate in multiple ways:
- Submit your questions ahead of time on the City’s Facebook and Twitter with #PlanoTownHall
- Follow along and ask your questions during the Facebook livestream
- Call 888-409-5380 during the event
- Join them in person at Plano Municipal Center, 1520 K Ave.
- Watch on PlanoTV.org
Visit plano.gov/townhall for more information.
Check out this info on how to Recycle from Republic Services Learning Center in Plano, TX