The Heap
The Cans at Night, Are Big and Bright...

The Cans at Night, Are Big and Bright...

houston-skyline-large.gifThe New York Times shines a spotlight on Houston, home to the nation’s largest waste handler in Waste Management, as well as to the worst recycling rate of any major metropolitan area in the nation.

Cheap land, a lack of political will, and an “independent streak” among the Houston populace translates into an anemic 2.6 recycling rate. Compare that to San Francisco at the opposite end of the spectrum, which recycles close to 70 percent of its waste, or New York, which is just above the national average at 34 percent.

“But city officials say real progress will be hard to come by. Landfill costs here are cheap. The city’s sprawling, no-zoning layout makes collection expensive, and there is little public support for the kind of effort it takes to sort glass, paper and plastics. And there appears to be even less for placing fees on excess trash.

‘We have an independent streak that rebels against mandates or anything that seems trendy or hyped up,’ said Mayor Bill White, who favors expanding the city’s recycling efforts. ‘Houstonians are skeptical of anything that appears to be oversold or exaggerated. But Houstonians can change, and change fast.’”

They’ll have to, lest the rest of the nation leave them behind.