City of Houston approves new recycling contract

Mayor Sylvester Turner hailed the City Council's approval Wednesday of a 15-year contract with FCC SA for processing Houston residents' recyclable materials -- a deal, the city says, that will save taxpayers millions of dollars and accept glass and filmy plastic bags.

"After considering proposals from competing recycling companies, we got the best deal for the city of Houston," Mayor Turner said. "The contract with FCC saves the taxpayers millions of dollars in recycling costs to the city. It expands the kinds of materials our Solid Waste Department will collect from curbsides once a week. It provides state-of-the-art technology that will be updated as we go along."

"It's a win for Houstonians and the environment," the mayor added.

The mayor was heavily criticized after rejecting a 'single bin' recycling option that the former mayoral administration encouraged him to sign.

"I'm not just going to sign something that did not originate under me when there are some questions," said Mayor Turner.

With a five-year extension option that would stretch the contract to 20 years, the city will pay FCC SA (Fomento de Construcciones Y Contratas, Inc.) up to $36.8 million assuming the price for which the company can sell recyclables does not climb steeply. If the value of recyclables on global markets shoots up, thus increasing FCC SA's profits, the city will pay less for the contract.

The city already saved $11 million when FCC SA lowered its price in a second "best and final offer" bidding round and will save more because the city's contract costs per ton of recyclables are capped. The city has been operating without a cost cap in its current contract with Waste Management.

FCC SA will take over the city's recycling processing in about 14 months, when it completes construction of a $23 million processing plant that will employ 100 to 140 people in northeast Houston. Upon completion FCC SA will give the plant to the city.

The city will then start accepting glass in its green curbside collection containers as well as plastic bags of the kind used in supermarkets and drug stores.

Current recyclables are aluminum and tin cans; plastic containers #1 - 5 and #7; cardboard boxes and cartons from items such as milk, juice, soup, crackers, cream, beans, water, broth and wine; and paper products such as newspaper, catalogs, magazines, office paper and phone books.

FCC SA, which handles recycling in Dallas and other Texas cities, will move its corporate headquarters to Houston from The Woodlands.