Elsewhere in Texas ...

In other large Texas cities, recycling is a mixed bag. The city of San Antonio claims to have the largest curbside recycling program in the state. Every week it collects glass, metal cans, all types of plastic containers bearing Nos. 1 through 7 (Austin accepts only bottles in categories 1 and 2), and more paper products than Austin, including pressed-cardboard, which Austin only accepts in its pilot single-stream recycling neighborhoods. San Antonio does not offer curbside yard debris or compost pickup, but it does have periodic large-brush collections. According to the SA website, public and private drop-off locations are available for the safe disposal of materials ranging from hazardous chemicals to Styrofoam to old shoes.

The city of Dallas transitioned in 2006 to single-stream recycling for the 240,000 single-family houses it serves. Since then, 85,000 customers have signed up to trade in their city-provided 13- or 30-gallon plastic recycling bags for free 96-gallon recycling carts for every-other-week curbside collection. Dallas accepts all plastics except No. 6, all glass, metal cans, most paper, corrugated and pressed cardboard, and picks up brush and bulky items once a month. Dallas doesn't do recycling pickup for apartments but does operate drop-off centers.

In Houston, recycling collection occurs every other week, but the range of acceptable items more closely resembles Austin's, with one exception: Houston doesn't recycle glass. Houston does offer curbside yard-trimming collection in select areas and began a large brush-collection pilot program in October. Like Austin, Houston and Dal­las both offer hazardous-waste drop-off facilities.

Note also that in each city, including Austin, recycling service in the surrounding suburbs, normally provided by private waste haulers, is typically no more ambitious than city programs, generally much less comprehensive, and often nonexistent.

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