Gulf Coast Program Director
Texas Campaign for the Environment has been organizing locally for more than a decade to ensure that all residents served by the City of Houston have recycling, so we are outraged that an investigation found that 2.6 million pounds of recyclables were put in garbage trucks and taken to a landfill instead of the recycling plant.
We call on Mayor Turner, the City Council and the Solid Waste Department to provide residents with a full accounting and what happened and full accountability for city staff that allowed this to occur. City officials must respect the efforts of residents who dutifully sort recyclable materials in their homes and be able to guarantee that it’s going to our brand new recycling facility.
It wasn’t until 2015 that all residents served by city collection trucks had recycling bins. It took thousands of Houston residents writing letters over the years, many people coming to City Hall to have their voices heard. Texas Campaign for the Environment helped mobilize residents again when glass was dropped from the program and it was restored in the new recycling contract because of this outcry. We continue to press for expanded Zero Waste services and policies and are extremely frustrated with this setback.
Our message to Houston residents is stay with this effort and continue to demand the services and policies that will make Houston a more sustainable city. This is the time to redouble our efforts, not give up in disgust. We encourage Houston residents to take action now.
According to KHOU 11, their investigation obtained daily collection data forms from the Solid Waste Department from January 1 through the end of May. The daily logs are filled out by each truck driver and show the type of material collected, the times it was collected, and the disposal site for each load. Those forms, cross-referenced with a database of corresponding landfill logs, reveal a city-wide, system-wide pattern of recycling violations. At least 123 city trucks dumped 333 loads or partial loads of recyclables at a landfill or garbage transfer facility, which ultimately sends materials to a landfill.