July 17, 2008
Still more recycling

Following up on the recent good news that the city will now accept more types of plastic for curbside and dropoff recycling, City Controller Annise Parker announces on her website that more expansions are coming:

Recycler AbitibiBowater has committed $3 million to upgrade its Houston facility to process single-stream recyclables and has announced plans for further investments to "strengthen the recycling partnership with the city...to allow the city ... to proceed aggressively with a strategic plan for a sustainable recycling program."

"With a single-stream processing facility in town, we will be able to provide more Houstonians with curbside recycling," Solid Waste Management Department Director Harry Hayes said.

I'm sure the neighborhoods that don't yet have curbside recycling but have been clamoring for it will be very glad to hear that. Now if we could just get participation rates up a bit, that would be excellent.

Meanwhile, a group of folks led by KPFT's Leo Gold were at last week's City Council meeting to present this petition (PDF) to Mayor White and a request for the following:

A. Formal adoption of "waste diversion rate" as the primary metric for measuring success of the Program, with regular tabulation and public release thereof. Waste diversion rate shall be defined as the sum of recycled volume, composted volume, and source volume reduced divided by total waste volume.

B. Integration of the Program with the City's "regular" waste disposal program so that the overall waste management system is considered and budgeted in a comprehensive manner.

C. To encourage greater public participation in the Program, implementation of variable user fees for "regular" waste collection, the central features being implementation of variable size collection bins, with (1) price increasing proportional to bin size, and (2) a no-fee baseline small bin.

D. Expanded acceptance of materials currently refused by the Program, such as glass and building materials.

E. Expanded coverage of the Program to include currently neglected communities, including apartment/condo dwellers and commercial businesses.

F. Implementation of regulatory mandates where applicable, including (a)a requirement that locally permitted commercial businesses additionally submit for approval and subsequently follow comprehensive waste disposal and recycling plans, and (b) regulation of other waste disposal businesses such that they too must be in compliance with City Program-related regulations.

G. Implementation of industry best practices, including such Program initiatives as food waste recycling/composting from local restaurants and food stores, and recycling/re-use of demolished building materials by construction developers.

I. Creation of plans to gradually and appropriately bring about mandatory public participation in the Program.

J. Creation of formal and ongoing contacts, visitations, and study of comparable city programs for the express purpose of implementing ongoing improvements to the Program.

According to a posting on our neighbohood chat line, from which I got those links, they were favorably received.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 17, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

One thing I don't understand about Houston is that you can get curbside recycling in some of inner loop neighborhoods, but not at apartment buildings. In Canada they pick up recycling everywhere they pick up garbage. So even if my neighborhood gets curbside recycling pickup, my building will never have it (according to my building manager). Why is that? And how can I go about getting curbside recycling pickup here at my apartment?

Posted by: Jackson on July 17, 2008 8:34 AM

Of course this is when they actually pick it up. 30% of the time all the bins on my street (Heights area) remain untouched.

Posted by: Carey on July 17, 2008 11:41 AM
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