Changes to recycling policy allow for more

HOUSTON The recycling program is expanding what it takes, and it should help you cut down on the amount of trash you throw away.

Up until now the plastic you could recycle was limited to mostly water bottles and plastic milk jugs, but now a whole range of things can be placed in the green box.

Whether you toss recyclables in the green bin for curbside pick-up or drop them off at City of Houston recycling centers, you can now recycle even more plastics than ever before – just take a look at the small triangle on your plastic containers. In the past, only plastics with a #1 or a #2 could be recycled. Now, if you see a #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, or #7, it can be recycled.

Recycler Brooke Solcher said, "I think it is great. We try to do plastic and glass and newspaper -- those are the basic things -- but I am teaching my kids to look at the little triangular symbol, too."

The reason for the City of Houston recycling expansion can be found with the company that takes the stuff from the city.

"It's good because sometimes I use some of this material and I could not recycle it -- now it's recyclable," recycler Norma Escobar said.

The City of Houston is already accepting the extra recycling material -- for those who get curbside collection, simply place the plastics in the box.

"They are now allowing us to take those types of material, so we are excited to be able to take those materials and divert it from landfills," City of Houston representative Marina Joseph said.

While the program is expanding, there are still a few things you cannot recycle.

If an item has a #6 in the middle of its triangular recycling symbol, do not put it in a green bin or bring it to a collection center.

This ban extends to a few other specific items as well.

"We will not accept furniture, toys or packaging material, and #6 plastics are like Styrofoam, so we are not accepting that material," Joseph said.

There is some bad news to report. Some neighborhoods are in danger of losing their recycling pick-up.

The City of Houston is sending a letter to 43 neighborhoods urging them to get their recycling rate up to at least 10 percent of the homes. If they do not meet that goal by the end of the year, recycling efforts will be moved to neighborhoods that are requesting the service.

To see how your neighborhood is doing with its recycling rate, check out The Consumer Blog.

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