Here's why your recycling bin is not getting picked up in Houston

HOUSTON - If your recycling bin is still sitting out on your curb for nearly a week, you're not alone.

Houston City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen sent an email Wednesday with an update on the city's delay in recycling pickup, calling it a "major issue city-wide" for several months.

Below is the information from her email (NOTE: Some of the information is specific to District C, so be sure to check your District's website or Facebook page):

Why is this happening?

  • Unfortunately, the City of Houston's fleet of automated recycling pickup trucks is aging and many sustained damage during Hurricane Harvey. This has led to hundreds of hours of equipment downtime as the trucks are repaired.
  • Another challenge is the impact a nation-wide skilled labor shortage has had on Houston. The department is in dire need of new truck mechanics as well as experienced CDL drivers.
  • In addition, many homeowners’ garbage and recycling bins were washed away during Hurricane Harvey. This has created a backlog for the delivery of new bins.
  • Finally, Solid Waste is experiencing the annual increase in volume that they see immediately following the holidays, which has further contributed to the delays.

What is the City doing about it?

  • This summer the department is scheduled to receive 69 new trucks, which will ease the burden on the existing fleet.
  • Although the majority of City of Houston departments remain under a hiring freeze, Mayor Turner has lifted this restriction for Solid Waste so that they may hire these direly-needed truck drivers and mechanics. The City of Houston hosted a Job Fair this morning to recruit new workers. To apply for one of these positions, please visit: www.governmentjobs.com/careers/houston
  • The department has had existing staff working overtime on weekends to try to catch up.
  • Mayor Turner is asking the department, 311 operators, and Council Members to keep his office apprised of all missed and delayed pickups so that he and his team can personally track them.
  • The Solid Waste Department’s Facebook page has daily information on what routes are being picked up each day. Today, Wednesday, January 9th, crews are working on Thursday and Friday A-week routes.
  • Regularly-scheduled pickups are projected to resume within approximately 60 days.

What should I do in the meantime?

  • If your bin isn’t picked up on your regularly-scheduled day, please report the situation to 311@houstontx.gov and cc: DistrictC@houstontx.gov. Please be sure to include your name, address, and what your normal pickup day is. Our office will share with the department and with the Mayor’s Office.
  • Stay informed by continuing to check the department’s Facebook page for updates on when your neighborhood’s pickup will take place.
  • Please know that I share your frustration on the delay of these core City services. My team is monitoring the situation closely and will distribute any updates we receive from the department.

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