Recycling Resources

Got recycling questions? We've got answers. From FAQs on our recycling services to general recycling questions, it's all here.

Recycling Material

ITR Recycling FAQs

How do I start a recycling program at my business?

To start a recycling program, you'll need to perform a waste audit. Fortunately, we can help you with that. Give us a call and get a free 15-minute consultation to learn how you can start a recycling program at your business.

What recycling materials do you accept?

We accept most forms of recycling including paper, plastic cardboard, aluminum, polypropylene, and glass. You can explore our full list of recyclables on our services page.

Do I need to sort my own recycling materials with ITR?

No. Our single stream recycling process does all the sorting so you don't have to. All you need to do is give us your recycling. Learn more about our single stream process here.

What types of industries does ITR support?

We serve a variety of industries including retail, medical, manufacturing & distributing, multi-tenant and multi-dwelling facilities, and municipalities.

What kind of equipment does my business need to get started recycling?

Each business is unique in its recycling requirements. That's why we build a custom plan based on your waste stream's needs, including equipment. Based on your recycling needs we offer balers, compactors, gaylords, and pallets.

What’s the difference between a bailer and a compactor? How do I know which one I need?

A baler is used to compress and bundle recyclables while a compactor is used to reduce and compress large volumes of trash into a contained area. Both are used to compress and reduce volumes of material but the key difference is in the balers focus on recycled material, such as cardboard, paper, plastics, metal, etc. Which one you'll need will depend on what kind of waste you have.

What happens to my recyclable materials after they’re picked up?

Haulers bring your recycling to one of our Material Recovering Facilities where the material is weighed and separated through our single stream process. Once separated, the material is converted into recycled product material and sent back out to be reused in other products such as bottles, glass, paper, and cardboard boxes.

Frequently Asked Recycling Questions

What are the most common household items that I can put in my recycling bin?

Cardboard, paper, food boxes, mail, drink cans, pails, plastic containers such as yogurt, sour cream, or margarine containers, syrup bottles, plastic clamshells, microwave food dish trays and lids, empty medicine bottles, intact glass bottles, milk cartons, plastic caps, and plastic bottles/cups and jugs.

What do the numbers and symbols on plastic containers mean?

  • Plastics #1 and #2 should always be recycled. These are the most common types of plastic. Examples include soda bottles, water bottles, cleaning products, milk and juice jugs, shampoo bottles.
  • Plastics #4 and #5 are sometimes able to be recycled. Some Houston recycling facilities like Independent Texas Recyclers do accept #4 (Polyethylene) and #5 (Polypropylene) plastics. Check with your community recycling program for a full list of accepted materials.
  • Plastics #3, #6, #7 should NOT be recycled. Unfortunately, these plastics cannot be recycled. Examples include plastic wraps, cooking oil containers, PVC containers, vinyl, and styrofoam products.

Do I need to separate my recyclables?

Depending on your neighborhood’s recycling program, you probably don’t have to separate recyclable materials like paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass. Single stream recyclers like Independent Texas Recyclers are able to separate recyclable materials after they reach a recycling facility.

Can I recycle electronics?

Broken or old electronic equipment such as laptops, phones, cameras, and monitors can be recycled but only at special facilities. These items should not be added to recycling bins and should only be sent to electronic waste facilities.

Can aerosol cans be recycled?

Yes! Empty aerosol cans can be placed directly into your recycling bin. Be sure to remove the cap from your can and remove all contents from the aerosol can. Do not attempt to puncture your aerosol cans or remove the nozzle before recycling them as the can could still be pressurized.

Can cardboard pizza boxes with food on them still be recycled?

Unfortunately, no. Once soiled, cardboard items like pizza boxes cannot be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils in the food.

Recycling Facts

Still unsure about the power of recycling? Explore these recycling facts to see the impact recycling truly has on our environment.


  • A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as little as 60 days.
  • Used aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled item in the U.S., and other types of aluminum, such as siding, gutters, car components, storm window frames, and lawn furniture can also be recycled.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours -- or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
  • More aluminum goes into beverage cans than any other product.
  • Because so many of them are recycled, aluminum cans account for less than 1% of the total U.S. waste stream, according to EPA estimates.
  • An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!
  • There is no limit to the number of times an aluminum can be recycled.
  • We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum soda cans every year.
  • At one time, aluminum was more valuable than gold!​
  • A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel. In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat and light 18,000,000 homes!


  • 500,000 trees must be cut down to produce each week's Sunday newspapers.
  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
  • If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.
  • If you had a 15-year-old tree and made it into paper grocery bags, you'd get about 700 of them.
  • A busy supermarket could use all of them in under an hour! This means in one year, one supermarket can go through over 6 million paper bags! Imagine how many supermarkets there are just in the United States!
  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper is thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
  • The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most are packaging and junk mail.
  • In 1993, U.S. paper recovery saved more than 90,000,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents 64% energy savings, 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
  • The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper are 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.


  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage that are thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
  • Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year.


  • Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable!
  • The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
  • A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill.
  • Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.

Landfills and Solid Waste

  • About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material!
  • Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted.
  • The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.
  • The highest point in Hamilton County, Ohio (near Cincinnati) is "Mount Rumpke." It is actually a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill towering 1045 ft. above sea level.
  • The US population discards each year 16,000,000,000 diapers, 1,600,000,000 pens, 2,000,000,000 razor blades, 220,000,000 car tires, and enough aluminum to rebuild the US commercial air fleet four times over.
  • Out of every $10 spent buying things, $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away. Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
  • On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.


  • An estimated 80,000,000 Hershey's Kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum foil to cover over 50 acres of space -- that's almost 40 football fields. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
  • Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute!
  • A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of freshwater.
  • Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re-refined, and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil.
  • On average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day. This adds up to almost a ton of trash per person, per year.
  • A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That's a lot of containers -- make sure they're recycled!

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