Recycling Holiday Wrapping Paper

I hung the stockings by the chimney with care…now what the heck do I do with all these boxes and wrapping paper?!

Feeling buried under mountains of boxes and holiday wrapping materials? One great aspect of living in Austin is the city’s commitment to recycling. In addition to the obvious recyclables that you can leave in your blue curbside recycling bin such as bottles, cans, paper and plastic jugs, the City of Austin also will haul away many of the items that may have piled up more than usual over the holidays, including:

• Glossy paper (including wrapping paper, as long as it’s the non-foil kind)
• Envelopes
• Catalogs
• Flattened cardboard boxes
• Aluminum foil that has been cleaned and rolled into a ball (2 inches or larger)

If you have excess cardboard this time of year that will not fit into your blue bin with the lid closed, simply fold the extra into two-by-two-foot piles, bind them with string or twine and leave them in a bundle next to the recycling bin for pickup.

You can also recycle sticky notes, food boxes, detergent and cleaning product bottles, plastic toys and even lawn furniture. Items that don’t belong in your curbside bin include garden hoses, plastic foam (i.e., egg cartons, take-out containers), plastic bags, wire hangers, pizza boxes, electronics and large metal items (such as frying pans and metal pipes). These items cannot be accepted because Austin’s two local recycling processing facilities use automated systems to sort and bale recyclables, and they might damage the machinery.

Also, be advised that the Ecology Action 24-hour drop-off site, located downtown at the corner of 9th Street and the I-35 frontage road, closed at the end of September after two decades of operation. Now, take any items that can’t be picked up through the curbside recycling program, such as household hazardous waste (i.e. fluorescent light bulbs, household chemicals), electronics, old appliances, styrofoam, scrap metal and plastic bags, to the Recycle and Reuse Drop-Off Center, located at 2514 Business Center Drive, just south of Ben White Blvd, east of I-35. For a small fee, you can even drop off old car tires. For more information, visit

Austin Resource Recovery, the city waste recovery and disposal division, has announced the goal for our city to be “Zero Waste” by 2040. This means reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills by 90%. While this might seem daunting to the average resident who is used to simply putting everything in their garbage cans for weekly pickup, it only takes a little effort for each household to make a difference.

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