Neighborhoods Lose Interest in Recycling

Houston's lack of interest in recycling is getting national attention. The New York Times recently reported Houston's participation rate is the lowest of the nation's 30 largest cities. Now comes news that participation in 43 Houston neighborhoods is so low the City Solid Waste Department has told residents to get with the program or lose it.

Spokeswoman Marina Joseph says they can't keep sending recycling trucks to areas where only a few households are taking part.

"With the price of gas, it doesn't make sense for us to go down the streets and there's nothing down there. What we're supposed to do, we want to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayers' dollars."

Joseph says those 43 neighborhoods have till the end of the year to bring their participation rates above ten percent. Robin Blut of Keep Houston Beautiful says the City should use financial incentives to encourage recycling. She suggests a garbage fee that goes down if people recycle and send less trash to the landfill.

"And if they're paying a fee based on the amount of garbage they're generating, and then they don't pay a fee for recycling, then they would be really really encouraged to recycle. Because then that service would be free, and they would be paying for the garbage that they threw away."

Marina Joseph at Solid Waste says the City is doing everything it can to educate the public about the benefits of recycling. The city offers curbside recycling to about 160 thousand households, which is only 40 percent of Houstonians who get city trash service. The rest are businesses and people who live in areas that have a private trash service.

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.

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