• drrobertbullard@gmail.com

An Environmental Justice Analysis of Houston’s One Bin for All Recycling Plan

August 22, 2014

Houston Recycle Rally at Houston City Hall 2014

HOUSTON – The City of Houston is proposing an experimental recycling plan called, One Bin for All, a plan initiated with a $1 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Mayors Challenge, a contest rewarding innovation in American cities. The plan would allow residents to mix trash, recyclables, yard clippings, food and other waste in a single container, to be automatically sorted at a first-of-its-kind $100 million plant to be built and run by a private firm.

A detailed presentation (with photographs, maps, and tables) examines the environmental justice implications of the One Bin for All plan in the context of Houston’s discriminatory waste facility siting pattern. From the 1970s to present, Houston’s black and brown neighborhoods served as the “dumping grounds” and were “unofficially zoned for garbage,” in no-zoning city. A detailed environmental justice analysis found the One Bin plan has the potential of extending this discriminatory pattern. The major flaws of the One Bin for All plan include: Not taking into account Houston’s sorry history of waste disposal facility siting; unfair and discriminatory criteria that gives preference to siting “at or near existing landfills,” a “grandfather clause” that disadvantages black and brown Houston neighborhoods where waste facilities have been historically sited; lack of diversity on the One Bin Advisory Committee, with most glaring absence of any Latinos (in a city that’s nearly half Latino); experimental plan that promises the world, but provides no solid documentation or empirical evidence where the “experiment” has worked or is working; and does nothing to advance tried and true single-stream recycling that is used successfully in other Texas cities and most large cities all across the country.

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