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lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Taking out the trash, Houston style

The City of Houston, America’s fourth largest city, not known as a “green” city, is slowly adding traditional, curbside recycling to some neighborhoods. I see green recycling bins and black waste bins on the curb as I drive about.

One Bin for All (OBFA)?

Here’s a new wrinkle: the City’s waste department recently announced a proposal to commingle trash and recycled materials in a single waste bin. With OBFA, everything goes into the bin, with recyclables sorted out later. The City thought that OBFA would promote recycling. My take? This is the antithesis of recycling; it is like taking out the trash on any ordinary “trash day!” Now the City is rethinking its options.

Image: Rubbermaid

Image: Rubbermaid

… or Segregate Waste from Recyclables?

Our household has recycled for years, at our own expense. Our suburban subdivision sits within the City of Houston limits. The community association contracts trash hauling and recycling services to a private contractor, with partial reimbursement from the City of Houston. We pay about $3/month for recycling services, in addition to Community Association dues. It’s optional, and it’s worth it.

It is easy to toss paper, plastic and glass in the recycling bins–to segregate it from waste–and place the bins outside once a week. I wish the City required all citizens and businesses to recycle; it is amazing how little garbage we generate each week when we recycle! I hope that our subdivision moves to the larger, covered, wheeled recycling bins soon; with 55 inches of rain per year, it’s easier to manage recyclables in a covered bin than in the small, open totes.

The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has an outreach program and offers definitions, tips and apps for plastics recycling at RecycleYourPlastics.org.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.
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