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Houston boosts recycling by 30,000 households

Written by Bradley Olson, Houston Chronicle
Published: December 7, 2010

The city is expanding by 30,000 the number of households that can participate in its single-stream recycling program, which soon is expected to reach more than one out of every four Houston homes.

The automated program allows citizens to place glass, paper, plastic containers, aluminum and cardboard into 96-gallon bins that are picked up by city recycling trucks and later sorted by Houston-based Waste Management. An average of 1,400 tons of garbage per month have been diverted from landfills through the program.

Through October 2010, the city had recycled more than 24 million pounds, or 12,000 tons, that otherwise would have gone to landfills.

'Great efforts'

"This program has so many benefits for so many people and due, in part, to the great efforts over the past year by our residents, it has allowed us to further expand our automated recycling program to other Houston households," Solid Waste Director Harry Hayes said in a statement.

The city has redoubled its efforts to improve its recycling after a trade publication in 2008 ranked Houston as the most wasteful major U.S. metropolis. In addition to adding the automated program, the city has initiated efforts to compost yard waste and has expanded recycling in city buildings.

More than doubled

Single-stream recycling, begun as a pilot program in 2009, now serves 105,000 households out of about 375,000 in Houston. For those households, it replaced the city's curbside recycling program, which does not allow glass and requires users to put materials in an 18-gallon bin they must tote to the curb.

City officials have said recycling participation has more than doubled in some neighborhoods that have switched to the single-stream program.

"We've got people clamoring for it because it's a lot more convenient," said Gary Readore, chief of staff in the city's Solid Waste Management Department. "It's a popular program and the participation rate is high."

Readore said there is no timetable for expanding the program, which has been funded by a combination of federal grants, savings from not having to pay for landfill space and money earned by selling the recyclable materials.

The city has notified residents that will be eligible for the program and began collecting materials from some of the new neighborhoods this week.

Those who participate have the opportunity to earn points through RecycleBank, a program that allows users to redeem points online at for groceries, gift cards and other benefits.

You can also view this article here.

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Recyclebank At A Glance

New York

New York, Philadelphia and Houston

Javier Flaim


The Coca-Cola Company, Craton Equity Partners, Generation Investment Management, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Paul Capital Investments, Physic Ventures, RRE Ventures LLC, Sigma Partners, Waste Management Inc., and Westly Group

4 Million+

300+ in all 50 states

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