City council to decide on recycling efforts

September 3, 2008 11:29:44 AM PDT
Today the Houston city council is expected to make a decision on an ordinance aimed at increasing the number of residents who recycle.The council is also getting an earful from animal rights activists about the death of eight dogs that died inside a city animal control truck.

City council members will be discussing the city's abysmal recycling rate. The latest ordinance is designed to improve the recycling rates.

If approved, it will spend about a million dollars for a variety of projects, including pile-up projects. Right now, if you are eligible for recycling you have to separate your recycle items -- you have to place paper in one bin, plastic in another, glass in another bin.

The city wants to test out what they call a single stream recycle. That means you can stick everything in a one recycle bin and technology would separate them after you throw them in the bin.

Trade magazines have shown that the city of Houston only has a 2.5% rate of recycling. That's quite low, compared to other large cities.

There are a number of reasons that could be contributing to the low rate, including a high number of residents living in apartment complexes, which use private companies to do their dumping and are often not subject to city regulations.

City leaders are looking into jump starting the city's recycling effort. While no decision has been made on recycling yet, council members had another issue to face this morning.

There has been much discussion on the city's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, or BARC. Several residents appeared to complain about ongoing problems at BARC, mainly an incident from about a week ago.

One of the animal control officers left eight dogs in a vehicle and went to lunch. Apparently the air conditioning was not turned on and eight dogs subsequently died. It hasn't been determined if the lack of AC was a mechanical malfunction or operator error.

A lot of people came to city council today to express their concerns over the incident. They want the city to pay more attention to animal control.

"BARC, the city's facility needs new direction -- it needs a new director who cares about animals and they need staffing that cares about animals. And that will prevent what happened to those poor dogs in that truck from happening again," said animal activist Carol Beninger.

More than 30 animal activists showed up to voice their concerns. They would like for the animal control officer involved to be fired. The city is not quite ready to do that yet. The officer was placed on desk duty while an investigation is underway to find out exactly took place.

In the meantime, the city is in the process of trying to find a director for BARC after that employee recently resigned.

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