Recycling Bins Being Added to Bi-Level Trains

Last month we told you all about the sustainability efforts underway at Amtrak, and you had just one question for us: Where are the recycling bins on trains?

In fact, one customer told us, “As someone who ONLY travels by Amtrak now, I see an incredible amount of trash thrown away and nothing getting recycled.” You’re right. We hear you, and we’re ready to change that.

Amtrak Recycling Bins

We’ve been working to solve our onboard-recycling challenge, and we’re excited to announce we’ve made some important steps. You can now find permanent recycling receptacles in all café and lounge cars, on Acela first class and café cars, the Auto Train, and some California routes, as well as most stations.

In addition, the first Superliner coach car, which travels outside of the East Coast, left our biggest maintenance facility recently outfitted with new permanent recycling receptacles on board and ready for your empty bottles, paper and other recyclable materials. If you’ve got travel plans in the near future, keep an eye out for the bins at the top of the stairs in our bi-level coach cars. Once we have all of those cars outfitted, we’ll move on to the next phase of equipment.

“We want to provide our customers with easy access to recycling,” says Craig Caldwell, environmental superintendent at Amtrak. “With the installation of the recycling stations in the Superliner coaches and plans for additional types of equipment, we are one step closer to that goal.”

Amtrak Recycles Logo

We’ll be honest. When we first heard your complaints about a lack of recycling options onboard, we figured it would be an easy fix. Since then we’ve learned a lot about Food and Drug Administration and Federal Railroad Administration rules related to the bins we wanted to install. With earlier prototypes, we also noticed that passengers liked the bins’ flat tops so much that they were using them as work stations for their laptops, blocking other customers’ access to the top of the cans.

We’re wiser now. The new bins we’re installing are safely secured to the train, have rounded edges as an extra precaution and even have sloped tops to discourage laptops.


What do you think of our recycling efforts so far? Tell us in the comments below!

Chelsea Kinsman
Chelsea Kinsman

I just rode a train from NYC to DC (#135) and there were definitely no recycling bins in the cafe car or anywhere else on the train.


"You can now find permanent recycling receptacles in all café and lounge cars,"

My apologies for my confusion.  Does this include the Amfleet II lounge cars used on the Lake Shore Limited, Silver Service, etc.?


Good start.  Now, will we get these same recycling receptacles in the new long-distance cars currently being manufactured?  How about the new bilevel corridor cars for the Midwest?  And then, when will we get these in the old single-level cars used in the East?

Also, I'd like to note that some stations have excellent recycling facilities... and others don't seem to do anything at all.  Can Amtrak make some effort to go through its stations and make sure that each station which has trash cans also has recycling, at least where the station areas are under Amtrak's control?  (I understand that some small stations don't have trash cans and that some stations are completely not under Amtrak's control.)


Thank you, Amtrak. I'm looking forward to the day that recycling bins are a feature on all of your trains. As another passenger who travels exclusively on Amtrak, I'm pleased to see the recent efforts you've put into making train travel an even greener experience. (As well as the recent addition of WiFi to your Michigan routes; as a telecommuter who travels frequently, this has made my life much, much easier. Thanks again!) 


While I'm here, I'd like to make a comment or two about energy efficiency.

I've discovered that new "heat pump" A/C uses about 3/4 the energy of old 1970s A/C units.  Has Amtrak upgraded its A/C on the trains?  Because I know that the Superliners date from the 1970s.... so I think their A/C may need upgrading!

And I've also discovered that LED lights save a massive amount of electricity compared to incandescents or flourescents.  I know Amtrak's newest locomotives and cars will be all-LED, but has Amtrak replaced the lighting in the older cars with LEDs?  Because it would save a lot of energy really quickly.

Because Amtrak has to generate electricity on the train by burning diesel fuel in the engine, any savings on electricity usage on the train saves a *lot* of money for Amtrak, as well as being good for the environment.  So replacing obsolete A/C and obsolete lighting has to be something with a really quick payback time.  Yet I'm pretty sure I've seen incandescent lights in an Amtrak car recently... so when is that going to end?

I've also been told that the Auto Train can't pull any more Superliners because of the needed electricity supply.  These energy efficiency improvements could allow the train to be longer, which should be very valuable when the train fills up.

Thanks for listening... :-)