The recycling fight comes to the steps of Houston's city hall today when labor and environmental justice group representatives (along with Miss Houston Rodeo Jacquelyn Young) partake in a rally they hope will convince the city to trash its "One Bin for All" recycling initiative.
The protesters are against the plan for a number of reasons including loss of city jobs and revenue, air pollution in poor communities of color, and well, it just doesn't seem right to mix a poopy diaper with a good recyclable juice carton.
Single-stream recycling, which is when all your plastic and paper stuff gets mixed into separate containers, and curb-side pickup isn't really the way things are moving in Houston. "The city claims that Houston doesn't care about recycling." said Melanie Scruggs of the Texas Campaign for the Environment.
"We're opposing this because it privatizes city contracts; if this proposal goes through, people would lose their benefits," she said.
As we mentioned in June, the city got hold of a grant to do the one-bin thing that makes throwing out your garbage easier, while the good stuff is sorted from the trash trash.
Back in March, Mayor Annise Parker announced that the city had received a $1 million grant as finalists for a proposed recycling project, "One Bin for All." New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the sponsor of the contest, was, of course, a big fan of the idea, which would take recycling out of the hands of individuals and make it something that simply happened to all Houston trash as a matter of course.
Several of the protesters are planning to address city council at this afternoon's meeting. They'll get another boost of attention when ABC13 airs an investigation on recycling facilities and their pollution factor, Scruggs said.
"We wanted to have this rally to show the mayor and the city council that this doesn't have any support. What the city needs to do is get a long-term plan" she said.
So is Houston behind the times when it comes to a serious recycling program? Most would say yes.
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"The city has been lagging behind all the cities to the east of I-35 that have curb-side recycling like Corpus Christi, Texarkana and San Marcos," said Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.
Still, single-stream recycling may not be the the final answer to all our recycling concerns, as some studies point out.
We'll see if city hall moves ahead with the one-bin deal (which we're pretty sure it will), or what other alternatives present themselves.
The recycling rally is today at 12:30 p.m. on the steps of Houston City Hall.