• How Amtrak Recycles More Than 8,000 Tons of Materials Each Year

Maintenance Facilities like Beech Grove in Indiana recycle materials by the ton!

How Amtrak Recycles More Than 8,000 Tons of Materials Each Year

In addition to Amtrak’s onboard recycling program, the company saves tons (and we mean TONS) of materials from landfills by actively recycling at our maintenance facilities across the country.

Carman at Maintenance Facility

We’re proud to say that almost all the materials generated in repairing and refurbishing your trains are recycled. In fact, we’ve got the numbers to prove it!

From 2,700 tons of steel parts and equipment (things like train wheels and axles) to 14 tons of windows, we take our recycling seriously. The No. 1 material Amtrak recycles is scrap metal--to the tune of 3,500 tons a year!

The way it works is fairly simple. When trains arrive at our maintenance facilities in places like Oakland, Calif.; Miami; and Beech Grove, Ind., we repair and replace parts on a huge scale. Check out behind the scenes at one such facility.

When materials can’t be reused, we recycle them instead of simply throwing them away. Some examples of the types of items we recycle are: scrap metals, lead-acid batteries, used oil and even mattress foam! From there, a third-party recycling collector hauls away the materials to a nearby recycling facility.

Wheels for Recycling

“In addition to recycling industrial materials, our maintenance facilities do their part for the on-board recycling program,” says Joanne Maxwell, director of environmental programs and field operations. “They handle all materials that come off the trains when they reach their endpoint.  Their behind-the-scenes support is key to making recycling work at Amtrak.”

With more than 20,000 employees, Amtrak has a lot of people looking out for recycling opportunities. Even those working in stations and offices are committed to recycling.

Last year employees recycled 430 tons of mixed paper, 175 tons of cardboard and 1,450 tons of commingled recyclable materials.

Our customers can also help us, too! 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.


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


If you want to be green, use real plates in the dining car and wash them, instead of throwing away 10 bags of plastic garbage per meal as you currently do.

Seriously.  The "savings" from using disposable plastic all the time is not worth it.  You're alienating people -- both people who like to be "green" and people who like to be "classy".  You're losing revenue.


Ever since you have eliminated the trains that have used real china in the diners you have increased the amount of trash these trains generate.  For a company that talks about being "green" all the waste from the paper cups, plates, etc. in the diner does not send the right message.  If you really want to be "green" you can start by returning to proper plates in the diners.  Besides Amtrak must be spending a massive amount of money on plates and glasses that end up being thrown away.  


if only more companies would do this. i would like to know how much this translates in money saved. it could be sent back to amtrak as an incentive.


This is good to know.  The next time the U.S. Congress refuses or stalls to provide adequate funding for passenger railroading, this article provide one good reason why they should.