Last week, the City of Austin sent out recycling flyers that, for the majority of citizens, went straight in the trash.

An employee sweeps up at the Balcones Resources recycling center. The cost for recycling varies, but in June, the city paid Balcones Resources $29.17 per ton and Texas Disposal Systems $42.93 per ton (those contracts are currently being renegotiated). Photo by Shelby Tauber for the Austin American-Statesman.

Why do I say the majority? Because it appears most Austinites can’t seem to get their stuff together to recycle. On today’s front page, Andra Lim explained that we are actually sending more recyclable materials to the landfill than to the recycling center.

Yes, those free blue bins that the city distributes for pick-up every two weeks aren’t being used as much as city planners had intended, and it’s costing us millions of dollars a year.

So, what’s the problem?

When I tweeted that story today, several readers chimed in that even with the mailer that went out last week, they still aren’t sure about what they can recycle or not. I was surprised to learn via these tweets that you can’t recycle plastic juice boxes and milk cartons. You can recycle yogurt cups, but they need to be washed first. No pizza boxes or thin plastic bags, but apparently you can recycle cast iron, according to a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit with Austin Resource Recovery.

The city responded to several of these tweets, and in one of them, included the handiest tool I’ve found yet to find out if something is recyclable or not:

The website is simply a search field where you can type in “juice boxes” and find out that, indeed, those are supposed to go in the trash. (Who knew?)

What other ways do you think the city could encourage more recycling in Austin? Where do you trip up?