A 2015 independent study revealed that one Texas city haphazardly tosses away 46% compostable material and 44% recyclable material into its local landfill, leaving room for a meager 10% of actual landfill garbage and unwittingly throwing away an estimated $4.7 million in recyclables. That city, ladies and gentleman, is Austin, Texas.
For lauding itself on being such an environmentally responsible city, Austin certainly has room for improvement. According to the 2015 Waste Characterization Study, 58,000 tons of recyclable material gets thoughtlessly tossed into the landfill each year — “enough to fill the UT tower 29 times”. As Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert soberly states:
Although 96 percent of Austinites consider themselves recyclers, the reality is that more than 44 percent of Austin’s trash stream is recyclable materials.
Battle of the Blue Bins
In an effort to reach Zero Waste by 2040, City of Austin Resource Recovery (partnering with Keep Austin Beautiful) has conjured up the Super Bowl of Recycling: Austin Recycles Games! Spanning four months from December 2015 to March 2016, the annual competition challenges Austin’s 10 districts to best one another in the act of trash segregation. Anyone with a blue recycling bin is automatically a participant, representing his/her district with each plastic, paper, or metal tossed properly in the recycling bin!
Districts can win in 2 categories:
- Most overall recycling
- Most improved
The tallies will be counted up on Earth Day, April 23rd, 2016, and the winning districts will be rewarded with a free beautification project benefiting their local library or public park.
The City of Austin hopes to motivate local residents to be responsible with their waste in order to meet their Zero Waste goal: keeping at least 90 percent of discarded materials out of the landfill by 2040. Listen to Austin Resource Recovery’s spokesman Memi Cardenas on KLBJ’s radio interview here!
Step 1: Find Your District
Don’t know what district in which you reside? No problem! Click here to pinpoint your location and determine your district number (the site takes a moment to load).
Curious how your district is performing in the ranks? Keep scrolling for the current polls!
Step 2: Research What’s Recyclable
Fuzzy on the ins and outs of waste segregation? Check out the Purple Fig’s thorough Trash, Recycling, & Waste Disposal Guide! If you’re in need of the City of Austin’s recycling pick-up schedule, visit their page here for residential services.
Step 3: Let the Games Begin!
Don’t be shy! Recycle, improve the planet, and bring your district honor!