Houston's Recycling Program Might Vanish Next Week

The City of Houston’s attempts at playing hardball with the only recycling service in town backfired. As a result, recycling might go bye-bye starting next Thursday, a completely mental development considering Houston’s foothold as the nation’s fourth-largest city and the volume of recyclable goods that could end up in a landfill. 

On Tuesday, talks stalled between Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Waste Management over the city’s all-in-one-bin, residential curbside recycling program. The current six-year contract recently expired, but has been extended through March 16.

Instead of offering a deal similar to the previous one – $18 million for six years – Waste Management presented city officials with a two-year contract (with an optional one-year extension) for $10 million. Turner had previously attempted to shorten a four-year contract for a one-year agreement. Again, according to Turner, Waste Management said no way.

On Wednesday, the contentious ordinance was pulled from the City Council agenda. During the meeting, Turner said a recycling plan would be announced on Monday.

“Recycling, in some form, will continue,” said Turner, who noted during Wednesday’s meeting that Dallas once used Waste Management but parted with its services because it was dumping recyclables into the landfill. “It may not be as often, but it will continue.”

The stalemate boils down to nose-diving values on oil, gas and energy commodities and the downstream impact the crashing industry has had on the city’s financial health. During Tuesday’s Houston Matters program on KUHF-FM 88.7, Turner bumped the city’s estimated budget shortfall from $126 million to somewhere between $145 and $160 million.

In April, Houston’s new mayor will subject his first budget to the pressure-cooker process of Houston City Council approval. During the Houston Matters program, Turner said he has asked every city department (save for law enforcement) to turn in budgets with 5 to 7 percent reductions.

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