Headlines: Considering the Astrodome; Slamming ‘One Bin for All’

Photo of the West Loop: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

15 Comment

  • I commented on that recycling story and revealed my ignorance of what “one bin for all” actually entails. I’m withholding my judgment of the plan, as I’m not really sure what to make of it. Seems to me there are two issues with recycling in Houston: community participation, and making sure all recyclable garbage is actually recycled. On the community engagement angle, I’m puzzled by this proposal. I live in Shepherd Park Plaza. We have the big green “single stream” bins. Most everyone in the neighborhood participates, including a number of older residents one might assume would be slow to support such a program. It’s just easy to do; it makes any excuses for not participating sound foolish. Recycling in my Heights neighborhood was a pain for the simple reason that the bins were(are) too small and they didn’t take glass. With the big bins you’ve got plenty of capacity for a couple of weeks’ worth of beer bottles and cardboard and tinfoil and whatnot. Seems like if they just went to the big green bins citywide, they could probably get a big boost in community involvement.

  • It’s disheartening to read Hairballs’ critique of the One Bin For All program. The simple fact is, if you want to increase recycling in Houston, you have to make it easier for people to recycle. Tyson Sowell and his friends might gladly, and neurotically, sort all of their paper, glass, metal, and plastic recyclables into separate bins (I’ll confess – I do). But most Houstonians won’t. If a recycling program is going to be successful here, it has to be as easy as possible, and the One Bin For All accomplishes that.
    Sowell says the companies that went bankrupt trying to do single-bin recycling back in the 1990s. My understanding is that the technology has been developed since then. It’s certainly worth another try.
    And the $100 million price tag? I wonder if the real complaint is that poor neighborhoods are getting the bins first. Our old neighborhood, south of Sharpstown, got the big green bins two years ago. The fact that people in Southwest Houston are getting bins first is sure to make Inner Loopers envious.

  • The issue seems to be that if paper products get wet, they can’t be recycled. There are a lot of solutions to that problem besides sticking to the horrible current program. Dividers in the big green bins? Separate paper containers? Use your noggins.

    Even without addressing this limitation, 100% participation in a less-efficient program is still going to beat the tar out of 16% participation in a more-efficient program.

    Further, there is huge value in ease of use for participants. Separating recyclables is over with. Separating and holding glass for transport to a separate facility (which almost no one did) is done. Tiny, open-topped recycling bins which let your papers blow down the street on a windy day are gone. Wondering which day is a recycling day is over.
    If there is room for improvement then let’s address that constructively, but taking a dump on a program that is by any measure a huge win for the city and residents is ridiculous.

  • Ugh with the kickstarter already. Geez.

  • We can’t even get regular recycling bins here in Second Ward, much less a “bin for all”! Eastwood has it but seems like recycling service isn’t available to neighborhoods north of Harrisburg.

  • It seems that there’s still some confusion. Single-stream recycling typically means that all recyclables are placed in a different bin from the one that holds garbage/refuse/waste. Glass, paper, plastic, etc. are then sorted apart from each other at the recycling facility.
    The system that is being proposed would take away recycling bins and have people go back to throwing all waste into a single bin. The recycling facility would separate recyclables from the single stream, clean and sort them. This method obviously consumes more resources, and results in the loss of some recyclable material (paper).

  • Not having two different trucks drive down every residential street in the city saves a lot of resources in terms of road wear, truck maintenance, fuel, and labor.

  • No, no, a tree ordinance is not the way to go: aside from their allergy to regulations of that kind it would be cruel to ask Houstonians to set aside their very real fear of trees, which seems to have gone viral like the Deadly Mold Panic of the nineties.
    When Lady Bird Johnson found a house to buy in Westlake Hills in the eighties, her daughter said something like, “Mama, surely you don’t want that house with that tree smack dab in front of it in the middle of the drive.”
    To which Lady Bird replied that she was in fact buying the tree, not the house.
    It was a madrone, which died around the time that she did, two years before the house bit the dust.
    Lady Bird had a sweet Southern lady way about her, but I believe she was really very tough. I mean, she was married to LBJ.
    Maybe it was her East Texas upbringing but that lady could stare down a tree. She was fearless in that respect. We’re not all made of such stern stuff.

  • Also, recycling paper is not a terribly efficient or environmentally friendly process. WTE incineration, or just plain incineration, probably makes more sense for paper.

  • Eliminating duel pick-up services is perhaps one obvious upshot. But when I hear people describe recycling as “separating” glass, plastic, etc, it sounds like a much bigger pain in the neck than it is. “Separating” the garbage for single-stream recycling is as easy as just putting everything that can be recycled in one bin and everything else in another. That’s not a burden. If it were a burden, I don’t think we’d have the close to 100% participation (my guess) that we have in SPP. They just needed to provide a bigger bin for crissakes and stop forcing people to haul their glass to collection centers. But if one-bin-for-all works as advertised, then it will be a great advancement; I’m just not fully convinced that it’s necessary.

  • Wish they would go with the single-stream (large-bin) for recycling for city-wide usage first before they plunk-down the money for additional facilities and then re-evaluate it at that time.

    Additionally, I almost wish for another bin just for yard waste/compostable items. Not sure how much the city makes on those POS bags (logo/licensing) or who made what on that deal, but there has to be a better way than just the bags.

  • Re: 288. It seems like before they create a “flyover toll road” or whatever, they might want to build FEEDER roads along the darn thing. The problem with the traffic on 288 is that if it gets bad or there is an accident, you are STUCK. There is no other route or feeder road to get you out of it.

  • While “one bin for all” might increase participation at the cost of making some otherwise recyclable material unable to be recycled due to contamination (such as the example of coffee contaminating paper), I don’t see what’s wrong with just taking the approach the City of West University Place uses.

    We get blue bins that we can put anything recyclable into (most kinds of plastic, glass, cardboard, etc), and once a week they pick them up and sort it for us. It takes little effort on our part (compared to manually sorting each of the materials) but ensures that recyclable waste doesn’t get contaminated.

  • I’m with Colleen on the 288 flyovers. Why are they concerned with building exits from a toll road that doesn’t even exist yet, when they could improve the situation by providing better access to what currently exists? How about stop lights at Yellowstone/OST and Yellowstone/Ardmore? How about rebuilding the ramps that were previously closed for OST? Maybe two left turn lanes onto OST? Improve the intersections at Yellowstone, OST, and Holcombe. Be smarter with the intersection design and we won’t need invasive flyovers destroying the area’s potential. Have you seen the curve radius on the flyover they plan to build to get into the Med Center? That 180 would sure be a fun one in an ambulance. They already own the land they could use to improve current facilities, but they’d rather build a toll road than improve what we already have.

  • @Colleen – Feeder roads are not intended for through freeway traffic. When traffic is thick, getting off and taking the feeder is a gamble. Especially when lots of people do the same – you can spend more time waiting for 3 cycles of every red light than crawling along on the mainlanes.

    Oh, and they are in the process of building toll lanes inside 288 (both directions). Once that’s done, instead of getting on the feeder and messing up my quick trip to Walgreens, or running me over with my dog when I’m walking to Hermann Park, you’ll be able to hop into the toll lanes for a slight fee.