To Improve Recycling, Houston Proposes "One Bin For All"

The project is designed to make recycling as simple as possible by taking the sorting process out of the hands of residents and putting it into those of various companies.

What's the Latest Development?


In an attempt to improve its low recycling rate, the city of Houston is preparing to launch an ambitious project titled One Bin For All "that would allow residents to toss all their trash into a single bin, let technology do all the sorting, and emerge in the end with usable products." The technology would be provided courtesy of waste-to-energy companies, most of which specialize in certain forms of waste, such as food or biomass. The project is one of 20 finalists in the Mayor's Challenge, a multimillion-dollar competition funding innovation in local governments.

What's the Big Idea?

San Francisco's highest-in-the-nation recycling rate comes courtesy of mandatory ordinances and freely available bins. Rather than go that route, Houston's sustainability director Laura Spanjian researched what other cities were doing and found that the parts of the whole were already there: "The technology to separate things out exists, but it hasn’t been used in the waste industry, it hasn’t been put together in the way we’re talking about." Later this year, the city will begin accepting proposals from companies to operate what could become the US' first "total material resource recovery facility."

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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