Solid Waste Management Department


City of Houston 

Carolyn Wright, Interim Director
Solid Waste Management Dept.
Sylvester Turner, Mayor
City of Houston

City of Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department Launches a Pilot Education Campaign to Improve Curbside Residential Recycling

Houston, TX. (April 28, 2021) – The City of Houston is launching a curbside recycling cart-tagging pilot program modeled on The Recycling Partnership’s successful Feet on the Street campaign. The cart tagging initiative is aimed at improving the quality and quantity of recyclable materials collected in the single-stream curbside recycling program. The education project is funded by a grant from The Recycling Partnership and a solid waste reduction grant provided by the Houston-Galveston Area Council from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The cart-tagging recycling education program will provide residents personalized and real-time feedback on the contents of their recycling cart. It is intended to educate residents on how to recycle right and how to recycle more, thereby increasing the number of quality recyclables collected. Quality recyclables include the list of Houston’s accepted items – empty and dry aluminum and tin cans, food and beverage cartons, glass bottles and jars, paper, cardboard, and plastic bottles, tubs and jugs – that can circulate back into the economy to become new products or packaging.

Developed by the national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership, the Feet on the Street cart-tagging program helps communities improve the efficiency of their recycling programs, reduce the number of new resources used in packaging, and improve the health of communities.

“Recycling is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Recycling properly will save our taxpayers money by reducing the cost of dumping at the landfill, and it gives residents the ability to directly participate in driving a local circular recycling economy to combat climate change. We know Houston residents want to recycle the right way, and through this cart-tagging campaign, we are providing them personalized, real-time feedback to do just that.”

The City of Houston cart-tagging pilot program will sample 60,000 of the 390,000 homes that receive City-provided solid waste services. The six-month program will include a comprehensive education and outreach strategy that involves a team of observers who will visit each resident’s location on collection day and provide tailored feedback on how to improve the contents of their recycling cart. If non-accepted items are found in the recycling cart, observers will leave an “Oops” Tag on the cart. The “Oops Tag” left on the cart will notify the resident of corrections that need to be made to the contents of their recycling cart, specifically identifying non-compliant items that need to be removed. If non-compliant items are found on a subsequent visit, another tag will be left for the resident, and the cart may not be serviced. The tag will be left for trash items with food residue, batteries and electronics, long tangler items such as cords, hoses and chains, yard waste, household items, scrap metal, scrap wood and shredded paper.

The City of Houston reminds residents to keep recyclables loose and unbagged in their recycling cart. Plastic bags are an absolute NO for recycling carts as they impact the recoverability and saleability of other recyclable items. Residents may visit for more information on how to properly dispose of plastic bags and other items. “The Recycling Partnership’s Feet on the Street program works by giving households instant feedback on what is and is not recyclable,” said Chris Coady, Director of Community Programs at The Recycling Partnership. “Through this personalized and real-time recycling education initiative, we are helping communities like Houston capture more quality recyclables which are then transformed into new materials, creating a more circular economy, a less wasteful planet, and stronger, healthier communities.” Now, more than ever, Houstonians view recycling as an important daily routine. During a time of social distancing where many non-essential employees are working remotely and commercial recycling is near an all-time low, producers see residential recycling programs as a critical supplier of essential materials manufacturing feedstock and the City of Houston’s recycling program helps supply that need.

Learn more about how to recycle right in Houston at

About The Recycling Partnership

The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 230 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 465 million gallons of water, avoided more than 250,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at


The Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) provides solid waste services to the citizens of Houston through the collection, disposal and recycling of discarded material in a manner that is safe, efficient, environmentally sound and cost-effective.

For more information about SWMD and our services, visit us at, “LIKE” us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter @houstontrash, or call 3-1-1, the City of Houston’s Customer Service Helpline.