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Mayor Turner: Houston’s One Bin Program All But Dead

More than three years after its inception, the city of Houston’s proposed “One Bin For All” recycling project is going nowhere. Mayor Sylvester Turner says it’s not “something I want to move forward with right now, if at any time.”



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City Council
Council members discuss a new recycling contract with Waste Management.

The One Bin For All program would let Houstonians throw all trash in the same bin, to be separated for recycling later. The hope was to push up Houston's low recycling rate. But now the city could end up with no recycling at all.

The city council on Wednesday delayed a vote on a new contract with Waste Management, which would cost the city about $3 million more per year because commodity prices for recyclables are low.

Several council members are calling for suspending recycling until that changes.

The One Bin program was not mentioned at all in the discussion.

It turns out Mayor Sylvester Turner is not a fan.

"I've looked at and read the paper that's been presented from what was done," he said. "I'm not convinced that that is something I want to move forward with right now, if at any time, but it's not a part of this conversation."

Jim Lester, president of the nonprofit Houston Advanced Research Center and One Bin For All advisory committee member, thinks the One Bin program would help dealing with low commodity prices, because as part of it recyclables could be made into new products.

"I just think that having really smart technology turning into a product that you can sell is probably a better step," he said.

Melanie Scruggs with the nonprofit Texas Campaign for the Environment disagrees.

"It just failed to work in Montgomery, Alabama. The city of Indianapolis is stopping their plans to go to a one-bin program," she said. "It's clearly not economical given how contaminated the recyclables get when they're mixed together with the trash."

Former Mayor Annise Parker tried to start the project after winning a $1 million grant for it in 2013, but it never took off before she left office.

The city council is set to vote on the new recycling contract next Wednesday. It will not affect the One Bin project.


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