Update on One-Bin Systems in Medina, OH, and Houston, TX

Date: 8 Apr 2015 | posted in: waste - recycling, Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) and the Zero Waste Houston coalition have been organizing for two years against a misguided proposal to replace an increasingly successful single-stream recycling program with a dirty MRF, referred to as a ‘one-bin’ system. A stream of support from many groups has aided our efforts across the country that have weighed in on a decision that would likely impact other cities’ recycling and composting goals not just in Texas.

See One Bin posts by Neil Seldman, ILSR.

The news account below of the Envision Waste dirty MRF in Medina, Ohio is the latest report on the poor performance of this technology. The system reached a recycling rate of less than 4%.

Local governments should commit to the education and other investment necessary to increase sorting of discards and compost at the source. Communities can rethink, reduce, reuse, compost and recycle as we have seen in scores of cities and counties in the U.S. that have gone beyond 50%, some reaching over 60% by traditional recycling methods. Fast track alternative like dirty MRFs and incinerators merely perpetuate the mindless cycle of wasteful product and toxic byproduct. They also present taxpayers with financial boondoggles.

Most recently, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle found that bidders on the City of Houston’s “One Bin for All” program have raised serious questions about the feasibility and costs of the project even if it would not include expensive incineration technologies such as gasification.

See City’s One Bin proposals raise financial, technology concerns – Houston Chronicle, March 29, 2015

See Ohio county hits mixed-waste processing crossroads – Resource Recycling, April 7, 2015

Mayor Annise Parker, however, says that her administration has not come to a conclusion about whether or not to move forward with a remaining bidder, and she will make that conclusion at some point before she leaves office in November. For now, Zero Waste advocates in the City are celebrating that all neighborhoods are finally enrolled in the existing single-stream recycling program, and they are encouraging Mayor Parker to pass a Zero Waste Plan that would expand composting programs and apartments recycling as part of a strategy to reduce 90% or more of waste from landfills in the next few decades. Austin has a zero waste goal and San Antonio and Dallas also have long-term plans to reach over 60% and 80% diversion respectively in the next few decades.

Note: Information for this article from Melanie Scruggs, Texas Campaign for the Environment.

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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.