Learn more about our local efforts to prevent pollution and protect public health in the Greater Houston region!
As the fourth largest city in the country and a global leader in energy and business, Houston has enormous potential to set a positive example for other cities in environmental policy. Recycling has been one issue at the heart of Houston’s environmental programs and our focus at TCE, since recycling is not just good for the environment – it is powerful for economic development as well.
Last year, Texas Campaign for the Environment and our allies in the Zero Waste Houston coalition rallied to complete the expansion of curbside recycling to all neighborhoods serviced by the Solid Waste Management Department, and we won! Houston expanded single-stream recycling to every neighborhood, so that residents can put all of their recyclable items into the big, green bin separate from trash. In 2016, Houstonians rallied to keep curbside recycling from being suspended altogether, and the community won on that front as well, with the exception of glass, which is no longer accepted in the curbside program, for now.
Now we are excited to take the next step, and address the recycling and food scraps generated in neighborhoods not serviced by the city, as well as apartments and businesses. About half of all residents live in apartments and have limited access to recycling. Food and organic waste also accounts for a third of what we throw in landfills, where it becomes responsible for 18% of methane greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. Illegal dumping affects many neighborhoods with blight, but city enforcers cannot keep up with violators. To address the waste problem at its source, cities like Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, San Marcos, Austin and Dallas have also passed long-term solid waste policies to reduce trash going to landfills and incinerators by 60%-90%, creating thousands of jobs in the process.
Zero Waste cities advocate for better product and packaging design by reducing single-use bags and partnering with manufacturers to recycle hazardous products such as e-waste. These programs are part of what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls “sustainable materials management,” a path toward a circular economy that conserves natural resources with products that are healthy for people and the planet. The first step toward Zero Waste in Houston is to set a measurable goal to get there. That’s why we are asking residents to email or write a letter to our new Mayor and City Council in Houston to establish a Zero Waste goal for us to divert up to 90% of its discards from landfills and incinerators. Send your message today!
Write to Houston City Council and Mayor Sylvester Turner urging them to support a Zero Waste goal for Houston.
Mixed Waste Processing or Dirty MRFs
Houston Press: Yeah, that’s right, leave it to an eight-year-old to make collecting roughly one-fifth of the city’s recycling tonnage his responsibility.
Houston Chronicle Op-Ed: The current call to eliminate curbside recycling in Houston confirms the need to commit to long-term recycling goals.
From our blog: Candidates for Houston’s At-Large City Council positions represent the entire city and should be strong supporters of the environment. A recent forum let the public hear where they stand.
From our blog: We have transcribed interviews with at-large candidates for Houston City Council about recycling in Houston. Learn where they stand, then use our website to email them your thoughts!