City considers heavy-trash changes

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We recently noted that the city was considering revisions to the recent changes (read: cuts) it made to heavy trash collection.

Carolyn Feibel reports on some of the details of the possible changes:

Houston could offer citywide recycling of “wood waste” such as tree limbs, stumps and brush as soon as this fall.

The program could divert more than 90,000 tons of trash from landfills, saving taxpayers $1.7 million a year. But residents would have to sacrifice half of their heavy-trash pickup days.

City Council could vote on the proposal in the next few weeks. Under the plan being considered by the Solid Waste Management Department “wood waste” pickup would take place on the scheduled heavy-trash day, every other month. Heavy trash — such as furniture, appliances and some building materials — and “wood waste” would alternate months.


The wood will be diverted to a recycling service, LETCO Living Earth Technology Company. The company will chip the wood and manufacture compost, mulch, potting soils and bedding mixes. The Council first must approve a $1.9 million appropriation for three years.


LETCO has been recycling Christmas trees for the city of Houston for 17 years. It conducted a six-month pilot program in select neighborhoods for the wood-waste pickup.

LETCO will charge the city $12.45 a ton for the wood. That would save taxpayer money, since the city does not own a landfill and must pay tipping fees of $32 per ton to dump its trash. Officials estimate wood waste makes up almost 30 percent of the solid waste generated by the city.

It sounds like LETCO is set to make out well on this deal — but is it the best deal for the city? Perhaps subsequent reporting will shed further light on the details.

Councilmember Jolanda Jones says the reduced service is a problem:

“I don’t think every other month is sufficient,” she said. “On the north side, and especially in Acres Homes, they need more rather than less heavy-trash pickup.”

Actually, it seems like many Houstonians liked the old monthly heavy-trash pickup — and that the “new-and-improved” service will still represent a reduction in service.

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Kevin Whited
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