UPDATE Feb. 15, 2018: Sanitation workers in Houston will resume collecting tree waste in March and bulk or "junk" waste in April, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Both types of collection had been postponed because of the need to clear debris from Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston in late August. The city alternates collecting bulk waste and tree waste month-to-month, and residents can place no more than 8 cubic yards of waste at the curb.
Curbside recycling resumed in November 2017.
"Houstonians should be very thankful and proud of the hard work of their Solid Waste Management employees who worked tirelessly to relieve them of the debris burden and immediate stress created by the ravages of Hurricane Harvey," Mayor Sylvester Turner said to the Chronicle.
UPDATE: City officials announced that curbside recycling collection would resume in Houston, effective Nov. 13, as reported in the Houston Chronicle. Houston residents are on a split schedule; "B week" collections begin Nov. 13, "A week" collections resume Nov. 20. Glass is still not accepted in Houston's curbside program. Junk waste and yard waste collections are also suspended until further notice while debris removal continues. Storm debris is also not being accepted in standard recycling bins and will be collected separately. Houston's Solid Waste Management Department has not performed residential curbside recycling collection since Aug. 25.
- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner recently announced that city residents can expect regular collection for their recycling carts to resume in early November, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. Recycling collections have been suspended so crews can focus on storm debris. Solid Waste Director Harry Hayes said participation rates may be lower at first, but are expected to return to normal.
- City workers and contractors have collected more than 1 million cubic yards of storm debris, an estimated 20% of the overall material generated by Hurricane Harvey, as reported by Houston Public Media. This has been described as the first of three phases in the city's debris cleanup efforts and the next phases are expected to involve fewer contractors because the remaining material is more scattered. Based on this progress, Turner decided to decline an offer of assistance from Dallas, as reported by Click2Houston.
- According to Tyra Wilkins, a spokesperson for Houston's Solid Waste Management Department, about 90% of the debris has been construction and demolition material and the remaining 10% has been "tree waste." The total cost for debris removal is estimated to cap out around $260 million. Federal disaster funds will cover 90% of that cost, with the remaining 10% falling on Houston taxpayers.
Houston suspended curbside recycling collection shortly after Hurricane Harvey slammed the city, leaving residents to either take their recyclables to drop-off centers or dispose of them with regular refuse collection. While the local Waste Management facility where Houston sends recyclables has been open since Sept. 11, and commercial collections resumed last month, local residents haven't had any recycling collection since Aug. 25.
Instead, city crews and contractors have been focused on the massive amount of vegetative and construction debris caused by Harvey flooding. This effort drew crews from around the region, both private and municipal, to help with the slow and difficult cleanup effort. Municipal crews from both Austin and San Antonio arrived last month, though assistance from Dallas was delayed by the need for a council vote. The fact that Turner is declining assistance from Dallas, even after the council voted in favor of providing it, may be a further sign that the cleanup is proceeding at a good pace.
Plenty of debris still remains and Houston may still have to deal with residents trying to dispose of it in their recycling bins. If recycling carts are stuffed full of water-damaged drywall, for example, that could contaminate other materials at a time when material purity is becoming more important than ever. The city won't face the challenge alone, however: Keep America Beautiful launched a fund in early September to raise money for regions hit by Harvey for cleanup work and community rebuilding and revitalization efforts. Additionally, Houston-based Waste Management donated $3 million to relief funds.