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Governmental Entity Recycling Program

Guidance for entities that are required to implement a recycling program

General Requirements

The governmental entity recycling and purchasing of recycled materials rules are found in Title 30 Chapter 328 Subchapter K . The rules were required under Texas Health and Safety Code 361.425 and 361.426.

These rules require governmental entities to create and maintain a recycling program for their operations, as well as create a preference in purchasing for products made of recycled materials when the cost difference is less than 10%.

What is a Governmental Entity?

What are Recyclable Materials?

  • State agency
  • State court or judicial agency
  • University system or institution of higher education
  • County
  • Municipality
  • School district
  • Special district
  • Aluminum
  • Steel containers
  • Aseptic packaging
  • Polycoated paperboard cartons
  • High-grade office paper
  • Corrugated cardboard
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Create and Maintain a Recycling Program

The goal of the TCEQ is to promote continued recycling efforts by governmental entities where feasible. The commission highly encourages entities to continue recycling efforts for materials that are viable in their market conditions, and to purchase recycled materials when possible. The following are some items to consider when creating a recycling program; these can also be found in the Texas School Recycling Guide (GI-30):

  • Determine the costs of disposal service
  • Conduct a waste audit
  • Contact collectors of recyclable materials
  • Win support in your organization
  • Select a recycling coordinator or committee
  • Create a plan
  • Reinforce recycling habits
  • Monitor and evaluate progress*
  • Buy recycled

*Due to changing market values for recyclable materials, we recommend that entities reevaluate their recycling program on an annual basis.

Purchasing Preference

Entities must give preference to products made with recycled materials, so long as the products meet applicable specifications as to quantity and quality and the average price of the product is not more than 10% greater than the price of comparable non-recycled products. Preferences will be applied in accordance with state procurement statutes and rules. Below are some ways to establish a purchasing program.

  1. Review purchasing procedures and look for alternatives - i.e. find and replace terms such as “virgin materials;”
  2. Purchase products that are recyclable or contain recycled content;
  3. Encourage staff or community to buy recycled; and
  4. Check out the Texas Smart Buy Membership program, administered by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.


The following entities are exempt from creating a recycling program and creating a purchasing preference for recycled material:

  • School districts with a student enrollment of less than 10,000 students; and
  • A municipality with a population of less than 5,000, if compliance would create a hardship.

Documenting a Hardship Exemption

We recognize that each governmental entity is unique and may not be able to recycle one or multiple recyclable materials. If your entity cannot recycle one or multiple recyclable materials or give preference to purchasing recyclable materials due to a hardship, you must document and describe the reason(s) for exempting a material and maintain the documentation on-site.

If you believe a hardship(s) causes your entity to exempt ALL recyclable materials from a program, you must contact us for additional guidance.

Texas Environmental Excellence Awards

The Office of the Governor and the TCEQ commissioners celebrate the efforts of citizens, communities, businesses, and organizations to preserve and protect the Texas environment. The Texas Environmental Excellence Awards are the state's highest environmental honor and are given annually in recognition of achievements in environmental preservation and protection.

Students, educators, and communities that have implemented recycling programs can apply to win a Texas Environmental Excellence Award. One example of a recycling program that won the award is the Kiowa Recycling Center – watch their story here.

For more information about the Texas Environmental Awards, or to apply, please visit the home page: or contact us at 512-239-0010.

Contact Us

    Pollution Prevention Program
    PO Box 13087, MC-118
    Austin, TX 78711-3087