Basics of Recycling in Fort Worth
Fort Worth is a recycle-friendly city & since I live here, I am have been interested to learn more about the recycling program so I can recycle RIGHT. Reuse, Recycle, Reduce (3 R's) are something I am trying to be more conscious about and I know its always going to a work in progress. The 3 R's are great ways to be more environmental friendly, divert away waste from our landfill, and feel good about doing something meaningful. But little did I know that recycling initiatives are different from one cities/countries to another and just because something has a recycle symbol (the green arrows), doesn't mean it automatically gets recycled. I was horrified & felt guilty which is why I decided to dig deeper into the world of recycling especially in Fort Worth. If you are new to the world of recycling and/or if you are a Fort Worth local, this post is a great resource for you and your family.
Before we dive into recycling, let's review 3 R's : Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Reduce : Produce less to begin with so there is less waste. Some examples of reduce includes
- bring grocery bags to the store
- use your own coffee mugs, water bottles instead of disposable cups and individual bottled water
- invest in a water filter rather than purchasing individual bottled water
- switch to e-bill instead of paper bill (and remember to cancel the paper service)
- print on both sides and use paper clips rather than staples
Reuse : Think of ways to reuse the item before disposing them. Examples of reuse includes
- repurpose glass jars (from pasta, salsa etc) for storing dry items, spices etc
- use grocery store plastic bags for trash can liners (you can also take them to recycling drop off locations)
- old towels, beddings etc can be used as cleaning rags
- donate items you no longer need so it finds a new home
Recycle : If you can't reuse the item, see if you can recycle them into something else. Examples of recyclable items include
- aluminum and tin cans from soda, tuna, canned beans, tomatoes etc
- paper, magazines, and cardboard boxes
- glass containers
- almost all metals such as copper, iron, bronze etc
Ideally, you'd want to reduce and reuse first before recycling but thats always not possible. On average, each person generates about 4.4 pounds of solid waste daily and that number has plateaued since 2000s. Like most countries and cities in the world, Fort Worth has come a long way in rethinking waste and my goal with this post is not to pinpoint which city is better at recycling or compare % on zero waste initiatives. Since our landfills are getting over crowded and for many other reasons, it is best to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible. Depending on where you live and what resources your city have, learn how can you actively participate in 3R's for the better environment and your community. Even though most recycling programs are similar, there are subtle differences depending on how robust your city's + private recycle program is. Below you will find how to recycle RIGHT especially if you are in Fort Worth.
How Does Recycling in Fort Worth Work?
The City of Fort Worth offers curbside recycling services for single-family homes and multi-family properties with seven units or fewer but recycling is NOT mandatory. Apartments and condominiums with eight or more units are required to provide recycling services for their residents. There are mainly two approaches to recycling systems : single stream & dual stream.
In Fort Worth, single stream collection (also known as “fully commingled” or "single-sort") is used where all the recyclable materials like paper, plastics, metals etc are placed in one cart and later sorted in the facility. It is simpler and encouraging to residents to start recycling compared to dual stream collection where recyclable items are placed in different bins ahead of time and taken to different processing center accordingly. There are pros and cons to both systems but that's a discussion for another time.
So What Can You Recycle?
- cans and cartons : rinsed
- paper & cardboard: clean, dry, and broken down
- glass containers : rinsed
- hard plastic containers (number 1-7) : rinsed; plastic bags or film are not accepted in curbside
- flyers, envelops, catalogs, magazines and newspapers, books, shredded paper
- pizza boxes without food scraps
- paper bags
- metal - aluminum, steel such as baking tins, pots, pans
- empty aerosol cans
- empty steel paint cans (only with thin layer of dry paint)
These Items Should Not Go In Recycle Bin:
- waxed paper, & Styrofoam products/food containers
- plastic bag, wrap, gift wrap and greeting card, Ziploc bag, trash bags
- Styrofoam egg carton, plastic straw
- clothes & linens
- light bulbs
If you are not sure if something goes into recycling bin - here is a really handy waste wizard and more info on recycling in Fort Worth.
How Do You Know What's Recyclable?
If you are new to recycling, it can be intimidating and confusing to keep up.
- First and foremost, be familiar with your city's guideline on what they recycle. The guidelines might be different for what gets picked up on your curbside for recycling vs. what city and private companies will actually recycle.
- The universal recycling symbol of three arrows chasing one another in a triangle indicates that a product's packaging is both recyclable and made of recycled materials.
- On hard plastic, you will see Resin Identification Code (RIC) from 1-7; number 1-2 are usually always recycled (water, soda, milk and salad dressing etc) but I believe Fort Worth accepts most RIC 1-7.
- If something doesn't fit within the list above, I'd check this handy waste wizard. I also go to company's site directly to learn about their packaging material if it's confusing.
Why Recycling Right Is Important?
A well-managed recycling program overtime is a win-win for the city, environment, and the residents. It is best to reuse and reduce before recycling, but for recycling to fully reap it's benefits, it needs to be done correctly. There is an actual term - 'recycling contamination' when incorrect materials are put into the bin or when right items are thrown incorrectly (such as pizza scraps in the box) which will essentially turn everything into trash thus back into the landfill.
I have made my fair share of mistakes and I am trying to be more diligent about separating trash from recycling correctly. It can be a tedious process sometimes and if you are not feeling up to recycling, it's almost better to put it in trash bin so it saves the hassle and prevents contamination at the facility later.
Are there Recycling Drop-off Centers in Fort Worth?
If you are a home owner/renter you can drop off, all of the recyclable items including clean single-use plastic bags or package wrap films. These centers also accept used oil, battery, and tires, other large household items, donation and bulk items. You can find more info here.
For single use grocery bags, flimsy produce bags, bread bag, zip lock bags, news paper bag etc, you can take them to drop off site at Target, Walmart, Tom Thumb, Kroger, Central Market.
Styrofoam cups/containers, peanuts, and foam are recyclable (RIC # 6) but not picked up by curbside.
I am a recycle newbie and by no means this is a comprehensive guide on all things recycling in Fort Worth. If you have any other resources or guide on how to make recycling more accessible and easy for everyone, esp in Fort Worth, I'd be happy to hear.