The city of Houston is taking a crack at boosting participation in its curbside recycling program by making it easier to dispose of recyclables.
The pilot program, to be announced by Mayor Bill White today, will be offered to about 10,000 households in eight neighborhoods. Residents will be given wheeled 96-gallon recycling bins, similar to the city-provided plastic trash bins, in which to dump every recyclable.
Currently, households with curbside pickup must sort recyclables into two "streams": paper goods and containers (plastic and cans).
In addition to increasing the number of households participating in Houston's recycling program, officials hope the "single-stream" method will solve common complaints about the city's twice-a-month recycling program: that it's too complicated to sort the materials and haul them to the curb, that the bins are too small, that glass is not included.
The long-term goal is to increase recycling participation. A 2008 survey from Waste News pegged Houston with a dismal 2.6 percent recycling rate.
White has said the city's rate will approach 20 percent after the implementation of new programs. In January, the city began a wood waste recycling program for tree limbs and brush. In the spring, officials are planning to expand yard waste recycling through the use of biodegradable bags.
But single-stream recycling appears to be an increasingly popular strategy for improving participation. Fort Worth and Plano already have single-stream programs.
A single-stream system can more than double participation rates, said Pat DeRueda, president of Waste Management Recycling Services.