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Houston City Council Approves New Recycling Contract, Excludes Glass

Residents now have four months until a ban on glass in green bins goes into effect.


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Sylvester Turner
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says the new recycling contract with Waste Management was the best he could get.

The new contract with Waste Management is good for two years and will cost the city up to $5.76 million.

It's a compromise after the garbage collection company asked to renegotiate the old contract with the city, because Waste Management is losing money due to low commodity prices for recyclables.

The council rejected a different contract two weeks ago that would have cost the city even more.

Council member Mike Knox, along with Greg Travis, voted against the new agreement.

"Now, we can continue to piecemeal this and kick the can down the road," Knox said. "Or we can do what the citizens of Houston really want, which is to establish a long-term, sustainable recycling program, if we just take the time to do a little bit more research."

Mayor Sylvester Turner agreed that the new contract isn't ideal, "but in order to keep recycling moving, with the exception of the glass being picked up at the curbside, this is the best deal that was available at this particular time."

He said the city will use the next two years to come up with a solution to include glass again.

The new contract comes at an inconvenient time for the city. They're trying to close a projected $160 million budget hole by July.

Under the old contract, the city was actually making a profit because Waste Management was responsible for any losses.

Then the market changed. Mayor Turner wanted to make that clear.

"You cannot compare the two-year deal that was reached today with a deal that was reached in 2007 or 2012 or 2014," he said, "because the market conditions were totally different."

Waste Management has agreed to a four-month grace period during which they will still recycle glass. That gives the city an opportunity to educate the public on the change.

The final amount the city has to pay will depend on how soon Houstonians go along with the new rules.

If they actually stop throwing their glass in the green bins, Waste Management will avoid costs from contamination and pass on the savings to the city; even better if residents take their glass to any of 10 city depositories.

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