Recycling technology rejected by Houston accepted elsewhere

The future of recycling in Houston is back on center stage and with it Mayor Sylvester Turner's multimillion dollar decision to stick with methods that are decades old.

Fox 26 has learned that the cutting edge technology the Mayor says makes "no sense" for Houston is being used by other large communities, at least for commercial customers.

"Bid rigging" is a serious charge and when the allegation was aimed at Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner by an angry garbage recycler, the City's leader responded sharply.

"I'm sorry, no one is going to coerce me into a deal that didn't originate on my watch and in which I find no merit," said Turner at a City Hall Press conference.

The Mayor is talking about the "single bin" recycling proposal from EcoHub which claims its process would save taxpayers millions of dollars each year by sending far less trash to landfills and far more reusable material back into circulation.

"It's one hundred percent privately funded. It's guaranteed to operate by the largest private construction company in the world. I don't know what else to do," said George Gitschel, EcoHub's CEO.

While Mayor Turner says the EcoHub plan lacks "merit" he has yet to publicly say it simply doesn't work.

That's understandable considering "single bin" recycling programs are fully operational in places like Anaheim, California, where Republic Services has a plant and has issued a promotional video touting its success.

State agency CalRecycle tells Fox 26 California has "no preference about which collection program jurisdictions choose" adding that "communities particularly appreciate co-mingling materials, allowing for automated recycling collection".

That said, the "single bin" concept rejected by Mayor Turner has other outspoken critics like Rosanne Barone of Texas Campaign for the Environment. Barone says the technology isn't ready and will result in more trash going to landfills, not less.

"The contamination of recyclable materials from food waste and pet waste that occurs in the bin itself, so while the facility may be claiming it’s easier to separate these materials in their facility, it's simply not true," said Barone.

Gitschel says EcoHub offered to guarantee the sanitation of the waste it handled with no financial risk to Houston taxpayers.

Fox 26 attempted to reach the Mayor for comment, but a spokesperson replied by e-mail that Turner is traveling in Europe on City business.