Plastic waste is problematic for many reasons.  The City of Austin signed a global commitment in 2018 aiming to create a circular economy for plastic by rethinking how we make, use and reuse plastic.  

In 2020, the City of Austin also joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, which brings together organizations from across the plastic supply chain to end plastic waste in the U.S. It includes brands, retailers, government agencies, recyclers and more. 

U.S. Plastic Pact targets:

  • Eliminate all items on the Problematic and Unnecessary Materials List and reduce the use of virgin plastic by 30% by 2030.
  • Design and manufacture 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  • Effectively recycle 50% of plastic packaging and establish the necessary framework to recycle or compost packaging at scale.
  • Achieve an average of 30% postconsumer recycled content or responsibly sourced biobased content across all plastic packaging.
  • Identify viable reusable packaging systems and increase their implementation and scale by 2030, as part of reducing the use of virgin plastics.

How can you help at home?

How can you help in the community?

  • Bring your own shopping and produce bags and use bulk bins at the grocery store. Many allow you to bring and use your own container if you know the tare weight.
  • Bring your own thermos or coffee mug to your local coffee shop.
  • Bring your own container to take home leftovers from a restaurant.
  • Avoid using straws or opt for reusable alternatives.
  • Avoid using disposable utensils with your to-go orders.

How is the City of Austin, as an organization, helping? 

  • Exploring alternatives to replace single-use plastics.
  • Educating and training City staff to recycle right, purchase less and host zero waste events. 
  • Prioritizing a sustainable purchasing plan.
  • Expanding composting services at City of Austin facilities.
  • Collecting plastic film and foam from warehouse operations.

What happens to your plastic after you put it in your blue cart?

Austin Resource Recovery trucks collect recycling from over 200,000 homes and transport it to a local Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for processing. At the MRF, recyclables undergo sorting by different materials using specialized equipment. The sorted materials are then baled and sold to other businesses, which transform them into new products. While some parts of the country face challenges in processing and selling recyclables, Austin's processors have assured us that we are fortunate to have steady markets. 

What do Austin's plastic recyclables become?

  • Plastic water bottles are recycled into other beverage bottles or can be used for polyester in products such as clothing, carpets, or backpacks.
  • Milk jugs are recycled into new bottles.
  • Detergent bottles are recycled into buckets, containers and flower pots.
  • Shampoo bottles are recycled into flooring.
  • Yogurt containers are recycled into bicycle racks and plant pots.