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Next wave of recycling bins approved

From last week:

City Council on Wednesday OK’d funding to complete efforts to double the number of 96-gallon green recycling bins parked at city curbs, but it is unclear which 70,000 homes will be next to receive the service.


The delay in naming which neighborhoods will be part of the second expansion comes from ongoing discussions with council members and coordinating routes so neighborhood collection days do not change, [Solid Waste Management Department Director Harry] Hayes said.

Once the new bins are wheeled out, the percentage of Houston homes with a 96-gallon bin will have increased from 28 to 55 percent, to about 210,000 houses. Add in those residents using 18-gallon tubs and an estimated 63 percent of the city will be able to recycle without driving to a drop-off center.

“My goal is to have curbside recycling at every household in the city,” [Mayor Annise] Parker said.

The first wave of recycling expansion was announced in May, when the budget was released. It brought the 96-gallon wheely bins to 35,000 houses, and broke the heart of some of my neighbors because they weren’t on the list yet. Maybe this announcement will make them happy.

An audit of this year’s first expansion shows about three-quarters of the homes with the new bins actually roll them to the curb, which diverts waste from landfills and creates savings Hayes said he plans to use for expanding the service.

“One group of Houstonians is paying for the next group,” he said. “We encourage folks to call 311 and make that request to be added to the wait list.”

I’d like to know more about who has the bins but isn’t using them, and why. I can’t think of a single good reason why anyone would not use them, and frankly the fact that some 25% of those who have them don’t use them is the best argument I can think of for some kind of “pay as you throw” garbage fee. Our unacceptably low rate of recycling is a major reason the city has been pursuing the One Bin For All solution, and while I get that I feel like we need to make a stronger push to get people to use what we’ve got already. Let’s start by finding out why some people don’t use it, and see what we can do to change that.

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  1. Justin says:

    We recently received our 96 gallon bin in July 2013 (Norhill area). On my block, about 15-20% do not use the bins regularly, if at all. The ones who do not use them at all are our elderly neighbors. They also don’t use the trash service that often either (either generating a single kitchen bag of trash a week or less). The others who do not use the bin did not use the 16-gallon bin either. For them, they just don’t care or don’t know the recycling rules. After talking with them about the new 96-gallon bins, they seem hesitant to use the bins because of the “extra work.”

    Personally, I cannot think of a two-week period where my 96-gallon bin was not full. My other neighbors who recycle would agree.

  2. Michael says:

    Austin gives everyone the largest possible recycling bin and charges more for larger garbage bins. That seems to be working pretty well.

  3. We generate more recyclable waste than garbage. My wife beats me if I throw the wrong thing in the trash!

  4. Jed says:

    when we get back to having door to door compost pickup, the world will be as one. austin is piloting that, though no idea what the rollout timeline is. sf has *mandatory* compost pickup. wonder what enforcement of that looks like.

    of course, there are cultural differences.

    ps – recently learned from my mom about how garbage worked when she was younger – they had “trash” out front (probably stuff we would mostly recycle now), and “garbage” in the back (basically food waste, picked up to use for pig slop). so much for progress.

  5. […] from the city Solid Waste Department, along with a list of included neighborhoods, is here. Council approved this expansion earlier in the month. This expansion and another one for an additional 60,000 houses […]