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One Bin for All: A Leapfrog Approach to Increase Universal Recycling Levels

The Problem

In the United States, stagnant recycling rates have led to landfills overflowing with trash, fetid air, and toxins entering soil and groundwater. Studies show that In 2014, with it’s 19% recycling rate, the City of Houston sent more than 80 percent of its residential waste to landfills.

The Innovation

Using game-changing technologies at a new state-of-the-art sorting facility, the One Bin for All program would allow Houston residents to place all trash – recyclables and compostables – in one bin, dramatically increasing recycling rates. This approach has the potential to increase waste recovery and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Houston and around the globe.

The Impact

In 2013 and 2014, the City of Houston undertook a two-part solicitation process to select a vendor to build and operate the One Bin for All facility. Upon execution of a contract, the vendor and the City of Houston will enter into a public-private partnership where the vendor assumes the risk of financing, constructing and operating the facility. In return, the selected vendor will receive a fee to process all of Houston’s trash. The City and the vendor will share the profits of all materials sold on the commodities market.
The City has been in negotiations with the selected vendor since the fall of 2014 but the Parker Administration did not complete the deal before the end of its term on December 31, 2015. Mayor Parker has issued a report to the next administration laying out the benefits of, and the business case for, completion of the project.