Houston councilmembers authorized a $2.8 million contract to purchase thousands of huge recycling bins. The money came from a stimulus grant and will pay for new bins for 20,000 households and replacement bins for 30,000 more.
Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck says the 96-gallon containers are part of the effort to ramp up Houston's recycling efforts.
"People want the bins. Those that have the bins now want the big containers and it's a very exciting thing that's happening in the City of Houston, I think we've turned the corner. It has caught on like wildfire and now we have a tremendous number of communities that are not being served, but want to be served."
The new containers hold six times as much material as the old 15-gallon bins.
And the city will now accept glass, along with the standbys of paper, plastic and cans.
Houston Solid Waste Director Harry Hayes says the city has suffered under a false impression that it has a bad record on recycling.
"My team just finished calculating our end of year — end of year 2009 — recycling rate and we're at 26 percent. And so we're not where we want to be — I mean obviously we want to recycle 50, 60, 70 percent of what we do — but we certainly want to be pragmatic about how we get there."
Hayes says some of the new containers will go to people on the waiting list for recycling. Others will go to test neighborhoods to gauge interest in the program.