Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

One Bin to Rule Them All: Houston Moves Toward All-in-One Garbage and Recycling

grview-31371-1From Houston Public Media: 

The City of Houston is moving forward with a plan to allow residents to throw all trash and recycling materials into one bin. The garbage and recyclables would later be sorted at a processing plant. The One Bin for All program is intended to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

The city issued a request for proposals from six companies interested in operating the program.

Laura Spanjian is the City of Houston’s Sustainability Director. She says right now the city diverts about 19 percent of total waste from landfills.

“So with this new concept and this new facility, we’re going to be able to divert 55 to 60 percent of recycled material and food waste in our first year and we hope to get up to 75 percent diversion in our second year,” Spanjian says. 

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has named an advisory committee of local experts to consult on the development of One Bin for All. Among the experts is Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer and professor at Rice University.

“It’s a very exciting initiative the city has done that involves innovative technology, it’s somewhat controversial and if it is successful I think it will be a huge step forward in recycling for the United States,” Blackburn says.

Critics of the program say throwing all materials into one bin will end up contaminating recyclable products like paper and mixing hazardous waste with items that could have otherwise been composted.

City leaders admit some recyclables will be contaminated, but they say the overall rate of recycling will still go up significantly.



  • garbagelover

    Hazardous waste isn’t normally in your household garbage can, is it? Sounds like the tree huggers are scared they’ll lose some funding of some sort. Let’s do this.

  • Recycle Guy

    Another “Black Box”. If they hurry, they can buy the equipment from the dirty MRF’s in Chicago, or High Point, or Atlanta, or Chester, PA, or too many cities to list in California or shall I go on! By the way Houston, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you!

  • Stacy Guidry

    Annise Parker, Office of the Mayor | City of Houston and Laura Spanjian, Houston’s “Sustainability Officer”, feel the One Bin for All system would get residents to recycle more. This is a real shame…just ask any recycler. They want recyclable materials that are NOT contaminated by trash. Even China is rejecting imports of contaminated recyclables coming from the US and other countries. Sending a low quantity of materials salvaged from messy discards to a recycling plant while all the rest ends up being incinerated is totally unacceptable. This is 2014 and Houston needs a ‪#‎ZeroWaste‬ approach that is sustainable, will boost jobs and beef up local business revenues.

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