New recycling program comes to Houston

February 5, 2010 4:46:14 PM PST
If you're not into recycling, you have a lot of company. Houston is one of the worst cities in the nation when it comes to recycling, but now a new program in our area is giving people a reason to recycle. Weekly trash pickup in this neighborhood near Sharpstown looks a little different than it used to. These trucks are hydraulic hybrids, designed to be green inside and out.

"It saves on fuel and it saves on the wear and tear of the vehicle," said Edward Robinson.

But the green trucks also have a different mission - to pick up recyclables piled high in these 96-gallon green trashcans. It's all part of a nationwide program that's finally come to Houston and it's a program that the city's Solid Waste Management Department hopes will get Houstonians recycling.

"It started as a pilot program in 10,000 homes and now it has expanded to 20,000 and we give recycling rewards for the amount residents recycle," said Marina Joseph with the City of Houston.

However, Recycle Bank doesn't send you a check for filling these big green trashcans. Instead you redeem your points online, for prizes.

Vincent Rodriguez of east Houston has been putting newspapers and plastic bottles and cans in his green trash can since he got it.

"There's no sorting," said Rodriguez.

The green trash cans, distributed free to residents, all have a computer chip that weighs the recyclables. That information goes to the Recycle Bank website where customers can redeem the points they earn for merchandise or free meals at area restaurants.

Rodriguez is saving up for something big.

"I'm hoping you know maybe I get enough points and I'll get something really cool like a better iPod or something," he said.

A spokeswoman for the city's Solid Waste Management Department says the Recycle Bank program saves the city money too, in part because waste isn't ending up in landfills and incinerators. And the recycle program could be coming to your neighborhood soon.

"The City of Houston is looking to expand the program. In fact, in April we'll be adding 50,000 to the automated recycling program," said Joseph.

It's a move that may help Houstonians lose the title of worst recyclers in America.

If you'd like to find out if your street or neighborhood is part of the Recycle Bank Recycling Rewards program, click on this link.