We love bulk collection week! But where do large trash items go?

Know how to find your week, whether your items qualify and how to set them out.


An overstuffed chair with stained pink fabric. A volleyball coated in a layer of dirt. A chipped and faded dining room table with chairs piled on top of it along with a gray tub of miscellaneous household items and a weed whacker. Piles of metal pieces from failed home improvement projects. Broken children’s outdoor play sets, faded by the sun.

In Austin neighborhoods, twice a year our cast-asides decorate the curbsides for Residential Bulk Collection. In the days before the designated 6:30 a.m. Monday deadline, neighbors haul out of garages, bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens the broken items they no longer can use.

Bulk collection week is this magical window into the lives of our neighbors. It shows how we once lived and how we no longer want to live. Some items no longer work, some wear out, some we just don’t want anymore. Bulk collection points to the massive amounts of stuff we hide behind our walls. It’s our attempt to declutter.

Then, drivers in pickup trucks comb the neighborhood looking through the piles for anything salvageable. For the savvy among us, it’s a chance to start a new project. “Sand it down and slap a coat of paint on that dresser and it will be good as new,” we think. And then we remember that we’re not good at doing do-it-yourself projects, or we remember that we have other half-finished or not-yet-started projects in our own garages that should probably join our neighbors’ stuff on the curb.

A few days later, the Austin Resource Recovery truck arrives to take away what remains — 12,142 tons of it last year.

Amy Slagle, Austin Resource Recovery’s interim litter abatement manager, walked us through the bulk collection process, from how and when to put out our stuff to what happens when it’s collected.

How do I find my bulk collection schedule?

Everything is at austintexas.gov/department/austin-resource-recovery. Click on the My Schedule box and type in your address. From there you can see your calendar for trash, recycling, yard trimmings, bulk collection and large brush collection days. They are even color-coded. Look for something in red for bulk, orange for brush, green for yard trimmings, blue for recycling and gray for trash.

In general, bulk collection and large brush collection happens every six months. Recycling is every other week, and yard trimmings and trash are every week.

You can add the schedule to a Google Calendar, iCal or Microsoft Outlook or print it out. You can also set up reminders to be sent by email, phone call, Twitter, text message or in your calendar.

What will bulk collection collect?

Next to the schedule box online is a tab for “What Do I Do With?” You can actually type in what you have and it will tell you how to dispose of or recycle it. Bulk collection is for large items that are too big for your trash can or recycling can.

Here are the general things bulk collection takes care of:

  • Doors
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Appliances: Remove the doors to prevent a kid or animal from crawling in and suffocating.
  • Car tires with the rims removed. There’s an eight-tire limit per household.
  • Lawnmowers with the gas and oil removed.
  • Railroad ties, but they have to be cut in half.
  • Pallets
  • Rolled fencing
  • Nail-free lumber
  • Metal

What will bulk collection not collect?

  • Brush. That’s for brush collection day.
  • Household trash. Trash collection is every week.
  • Cardboard boxes. Recycle them.
  • Hazardous materials like paint, pool chemicals and cleaning materials. Drop them off at the Recycle and Reuse Drop-Off Center, 2514 Business Center Drive, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
  • Mirrors. Put them in the trash.
  • Automotive chassis and bodies, motorcycles, trailers and boats. Anything with a title on it cannot be collected by Austin Resource Recovery. You need a junkyard.
  • Tires that are still mounted on rims. Remove the rims and separate.
  • Sheet glass and other construction and remodeling debris. For items that can be reused, drop them off at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 500 W. Ben White Blvd., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Items that cannot be reused can be added to a landfill, but you should call the landfill directly to check. Expect to pay disposal fees.

How should I place my items on the curb?

Place the items 5 feet away from your trash cans, mailbox, fences, walls, cars, water meters, telephone or cable connection boxes and away from low tree limbs or power lines.

Do not put them in an alley or in front of a vacant lot or business.

Do not put them in any containers, including bags or boxes.

Separate items into three piles:

  • Metal
  • Tires
  • Nonmetal items

What happens to the bulk collection items?

In truth, most of the items end up in the landfill. Austin Resource Recovery does recycle the tires and would recycle the metal, but typically other people have taken the scrap metal and appliances before the city’s collection truck gets there.

Why does it take several days to pick up the items?

We thought it was to give our neighbors time to find hidden treasures in our pile of discards. Turns out that’s not so. Each bulk collection route covers an area between 6,000 and 14,000 homes; it takes a while to get to all those homes.

Why didn’t the bulk collection truck take my item?

Usually it’s because it’s hazardous waste, like paint, that needs to be taken by you to the Recycle and Reuse Drop-Off Center at 2514 Business Center Drive. There it can be recycled or disposed of properly.



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