COMMENT OF THE DAY: IS ‘ONE BIN FOR ALL’ TOO BIG TO SUCCEED IN HOUSTON? “Seems to me this innovative program steps on the toes of so many entrenched industries (and their political, financial and criminal associations.) Too big. If he could start in small communities, gain popular support and a groundswell of political goodwill, it would be better for success — but I suppose small-scale would not be at all economically viable.” [movocelot, commenting on Here Come the Pizza Chains; The Rise and Fall of One-Bin Recycling; previously on Swamplot] Photo of recycling bin in the Heights: Charles Kuffner
SALVATION ARMY DONATION CENTER WILL SOON TAKE YOUR GLASS RECYCLING, TOO The first 2 of 10 planned locations for a new city-backed glass recycling pilot program will open this weekend. In the wake of the elimination of glass this March from the city’s single-stream contract with Waste Management, glass hoarder and reseller Strategic Materials is opening up a collection point at Sharpstown Park (at 6600 Harbor Town Dr., across from Sharptown Dental Clinic and the Sharpstown Country Club), and not at the Sharpstown Park Apartments on Bellaire Blvd. as accidentally initially advertised). That drop spot will be accessible during normal park hours; the company is also opening a 24-hour drop site at the Washington Ave Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center, across Hemphill St. from the Salvation Army Adult Rehab Center and across Washington from Darkhorse Tavern. If the first 10 spots work out, the city says that more locations could eventually be added. [City of Houston] Photo of Salvation Army Donation Center at 2208 Washington Ave: Vincent M.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: GETTING RID OF WASTEFULNESS “It amazes me that we’ve become so rich as a society that we can collectively afford to have fashions of home improvements that will go in and out of style (although remain perfectly functional) the same way clothes do. The funniest to me is when you see on one of these HGTV shows someone espousing all the right ‘green’ mantras, but the first thing they do when they get the house it tear out all the perfectly functioning appliances, cabinets, counters and carpet…etc to be thrown in a dumpster. All the while feeling smug about how sustainable the place is because they are putting in bamboo flooring . . .” [longcat, commenting on Comment of the Day: Your ‘Updates’ Are Dating You] Illustration: Lulu
Note: Story updated below.
Yes, we have another Inner Loop recycling center closing to mark for the new year. Swamplot reader Jon Morris caught these shots of the final evening of bottle-clinking at the West University RecyclExpress at 5004 Dincans St., behind Goode Company Seafood, last night. You’ve got only a few minutes left to get rid of those New Year’s shindig empties — the center closes forever at noon today. “Scene was calm but with steady traffic when I was there,” reports Morris. “All the bins were overflowing though.”
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Inner Loop Recycling Apocalypse ’14
The recycling center at 3602 Center St. closed “pretty suddenly” on New Year’s Eve, reader Debnil Chowdhury reports — with these pics from the scene at the corner of Harvard St.: “Not sure how long the sign was up . . . I don’t remember seeing it a week or two ago but I might have missed it.” The sign directs would-be bottle tossers to 2 remaining City of Houston facilities:
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Inner Loop Recycling Apocalypse ’14
Looks like the typical rush to get rid of empties right after New Year’s could be a little compressed this year from Rice Village to Upper Kirby. A Swamplot reader sends in pics of the new sign that’s gone up at the sort-it-yourself recycling center at 5004 Dincans St., across the street and behind Goode Co. Seafood. West University’s city council voted in October to close the 24-hr. drive-up facility, and the sign announces the January 2 closing date.
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The finishing touches are being put on this somewhat totemic new building at the ReUse Warehouse site in Independence Heights. This one’s built on the concrete slab and with the steel beams of the old Public Works machine shop here at 9003 Main St., downcycling that building’s roof for use as its ceiling. It’ll serve as office space for Solid Waste Management staff; it’ll also house a workshop to process donated materials (usually the leftovers from new builds and the salvaged stuff from demos) and feature a recycled-art gallery. Zen T. C. Zheng reports that the building should be ready to go by June.
Photo: Allyn West
COMMENT OF THE DAY: LORDS OF THE FLIES “I’ve found having good relationships with the dumpster divers can be beneficial. While, obviously, we have to be careful of those fishing for information (identity theft, etc.) –– a lot of what we throw away is still very useful: I like to know that it is being used in the best way, even if it makes no financial sense for me to do so. At my business, we have several local characters each with their own wants and needs. One comes through and extracts every piece of large metal (using axes, pickaxes, tools, whatever it takes) –– door handles, buckets, etc., cleans them up and recycles them. Another makes his weekly run on different days, looking for every can in our recycling dumpster. The final one comes through twice a week collecting pallets we stack up for him, so he can go sell them to a local used pallet company. The first two would be considered criminal acts under the law, and there’s no way in hell I’d report them. If they found someone diving for info, they’d drive them off –– because they need to protect their interests and ours to keep access.” [drone, commenting on Mayor Parker Asks City Council To Decriminalize Diving in Public Dumpsters]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: I HAVE CRACKED THE RECYCLING BIN CODE “My green bin was getting overly full, so I went to Sears and bought a similar blue bin. They empty it just like the official one, without concern or question, every other week.” [anon, commenting on Actually, Say Critics, ‘One Bin for All’ Maybe Not Best Idea]
ACTUALLY, SAY CRITICS, ‘ONE BIN FOR ALL’ MAYBE NOT BEST IDEA Mayor Parker’s prize-winning garbage program was questioned yesterday by activists and environmentalists, reports Hair Balls’ Vanessa Piña — especially because the $1 million the city won from Mayor Bloomberg seems awfully puny in light of the expected $100 million the new sorting facility could cost. And, reports Piña, critics are suggesting that “One Bin for All” seems kinda unnecessary: “There is a successful partnership between the city and waste management, and material is daily being handled. Waste Management’s single stream sorting facilities are running at an estimated 50 percent of capacity and can easily handle more if the city will only provide more carts to our citizens,” says Leo Gold. And here’s Dr. Robert Bullard, public affairs dean at Texas Southern: “For someone who has done research and written more than 18 books on this stuff it is rather odd that we would be opting for an unproven, risky idea.” [Hair Balls; previously on Swamplot] Photo of recycling bin in the Heights: Charles Kuffner
GARBAGE PROGRAM STILL ‘ABSOLUTELY DOABLE,’ SAYS MAYOR PARKER
So Houston’s “One Bin for All” idea didn’t win the $5 million grand prize in Mayor Bloomberg’s philanthrophic challenge — but it did tie for second. And that means $1 million will be coming Houston’s way, along with $50,000 extra for being so darn lovable and winning the “fan favorite” vote online. And what’s the city going to do with all this dough? The Houston Chronicle’s Carol Christian reports that the consolation prizes might be just enough to get the program off the ground: Though the idea to combine garbage, recycling, and yard waste into one big bin for mechanized sorting later has been around for awhile, Mayor Parker says, “This award will allow us the seed money to begin the process . . . We have thoroughly researched the technology. It’s absolutely doable.” Construction on a new sorting facility could begin as early as 2014, reports Christian. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of recycling bin in the Heights: Charles Kuffner
LEARN BY UNDOING Bellaire City Council voted today to spend an extra $8,000 to allow Habitat for Humanity to practice “whole house recycling” and, in lieu of the usual one-fell-swoop, whiz-bang demolition, “deconstruct” over a 14-day span this home at 5119 Jessamine, reports Robin Foster; the ayes argued that deconstruction can reduce the amount of wasted reusable material — but there remained at least one unconvinced nay: “‘Demolition is recycling, recycling is demolition,’ said [Bellaire mayor Phil] Nauert.” [West U Examiner] Photo: West U Examiner
Whoever owns this warehouse in the East End — he wants to remain anonymous — has donated it for the time being to Historic Houston to house its collection of materials rescued from historic Houston buildings before demolitions turned everything into splinters and twisted metal.
The warehouse is located between Eastwood and Milby at 4300 Harrisburg, right next to the monolithic Maximus Coffee Group plant. This Sunday the mural-covered doors will be rolled up for a few hours while the nonprofit rolls out an inventory including windows, light fixtures, flooring, and siding. Founder and executive director Lynn Edmundson tells Swamplot that the group has been looking for a permanent home since early December; it had leased a warehouse and yard at 1307 W. Clay until closing in June 2011.
Photo: Historic Houston
We shall see whether art can have a trickle-down effect: Glasstire reports that Patrick Renner will be taking a few loads of reclaimed wood and building this 185-foot “Funnel Tunnel” among the trees on the esplanade near Inversion and the Art League Houston at 1953 Montrose; the Houston-based sculptor will be piecing it together starting February 1.