Houston's curbside recycling collection suspended with no immediate plans to resume
- Houston has suspended curbside collection of residential recyclables indefinitely as a result of Hurricane Harvey, as reported by KPRC. The city is keeping its eight recycling drop-off centers open seven days per week with extended hours at multiple locations so residents can bring their recyclables and other debris.
- The city's Solid Waste Management Department confirmed that no curbside recyclables have been collected since Aug. 25. "Due to the magnitude and impact of Hurricane Harvey, and the resulting debris, all additional personnel and equipment beyond what are needed for regular garbage collection have been dedicated to flood debris collection," wrote Public Information Officer Irma Reyes via email.
- Waste Management, which currently has the contract to process this material, reopened their local MRFs as of Sept. 11. The company also resumed curbside collection for its own customers on that day.
In addition to recycling, the city has suspended yard waste collection "until further notice." Whether residents are able or willing to make the effort to divert any of this material to drop-off centers, or will just put it in their refuse carts, remains to be seen. The primary focus is still on getting streets and yards cleared, with certain state environmental regulations suspended to expedite that process. As the city works to collect an estimated 8 million cubic yards of debris it has called for assistance from all quarters. Private contractors and neighboring municipalities have all answered, with hundreds of additional trucks either on the scene or on the way.
Curbside service resumed more quickly in many communities hit by Hurricane Irma. Due to the extent of flooding in Houston, this work has been more challenging. Even in areas where collection has resumed it often takes longer than usual due to the adjusted hours and additional safety precautions that crews are operating under.
The arrival of Harvey has also quieted conversations about a new 15-year recycling processing contract that was being discussed over the summer. After initially favoring a deal with FCC Environmental Services, Mayor Sylvester Turner decided to reopen the bidding process in July. The four eligible bidders were allowed to submit best and final offers in August with a decision expected to come in September. Since Harvey, multiple companies confirmed they haven't heard further details. When asked for an update, the city told Waste Dive that "the procurement process for the new contract continues to proceed."
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