Beyond the bin: Keeping Austin clean and safe this holiday season

Slow Down to Get Around

By: Ashley Pace

It’s a busy time of year for everyone, especially those in the resource recovery industry. The increase in traffic on the road and unwanted items in the bins often leads to an increase in injuries to our workers. This holiday season, Austin Resource Recovery asks you to help keep our operators in mind to ensure everyone has a safe and happy holiday.

Slow Down to Get Around

According to the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), solid waste collection employees in the United States have the fifth highest fatality rate of any occupation. The holiday season brings a significant increase in traffic and, with that, a greater number of accidents involving waste collection vehicles. When approaching one of our vehicles, be sure to slow down and only pass when you have made eye contact with the driver and know that any other workers around the truck see you. For more on this, check out this video.


Improper disposal of lithium-ion batteries can lead to fires in your bin. Although more common in the hot and dry summer months, the significant increase in used batteries in trash carts during the holiday season can also lead to fires. Learn more about battery safety.

Household chemicals

Chemicals found in common household items like paint thinner, gas or diesel fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, grease rags or brake fluid can spontaneously combust when exposed to heat. Not only is the fire itself dangerous for your sanitation worker, but the fumes, if inhaled, can lead to major lung damage. These chemicals are considered household hazardous waste and should be dropped off for proper disposal at our Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center located at 2514 Business Center Drive. Make an appointment to drop off materials. 

Needles and sharps

Home medical supplies pose another danger to our sanitation workers. As they are lifting lids and helping your trash into the truck, it is possible for them to be stuck by sharps if they are not properly packaged for disposal. Needles and sharps need to be sealed in a hard plastic container like a laundry detergent bottle with the lid closed and taped shut. You should then label the container as “SYRINGES," "SHARPS" or "NEEDLES” and place it in your brown trash cart. Never place sharps containers in your recycle bin.

As you navigate your way through this joyful time of year please remember the people keeping Austin clean and take a few extra minutes to make sure that you and your family are checking the What Do I Do With tool whenever you are unsure of how to properly dispose of an item.