Houston Recycling Delays May Soon End: City Responds to Residents’ Concerns

Houston Recycling Delays May Soon End: City Responds to Residents’ Concerns
Recycling cans out on Mobud Drive on January 25, 2024

On January 25, 2024, green recycling cans—some overflowing—lined Mobud Drive in Sharpstown’s Country Club Terrace 2. Recycling for many Sharpstown homes has not been picked up for five-and-a-half weeks, a problem other parts of Houston are facing as well.

Each home’s recycling is normally arranged for pickup every other week, with some portions of Sharpstown scheduled for the “A week,” and some scheduled for the “B week.”

“A week” streets have seen fewer delays lately, but “B week” streets—most of Sharpstown—have missed two pickups due to the New Year’s holiday and Winter Storm Heather. During those weeks with reduced work days, the Solid Waste Management Department prioritized trash pickup rather than recycling.

At this week’s city council meeting, District J Council Member Edward Pollard asked for better communication from Solid Waste, saying that some constituents got frustrated with the delays and pulled their recycling cans back from the street, only to see the recycling truck drive past the next morning.

“I don’t like surprises with not knowing when the recycling is going to get picked up,” Pollard said.

Based on Facebook comments from Sharpstown residents, it appears that Solid Waste picked up recycling at some homes in Sharpstown’s Country Club Terrace 3 last Friday, catching many unprepared.

In other areas of Sharpstown, the recycling bins have stayed out on the streets—untouched—for weeks.

“My can is full to the brim and I’ve got a box in the garage full of recycling,” said Marvin Parrish, a Country Club Terrace 2 resident.

He said that this is the first time recycling has been delayed this long for the five years he’s lived in Sharpstown. “Why don’t they pick it up?”

Julie Moran, a Section 5 resident, told a similar story: her recycling can is full, and she has two more bags in the garage. “If recycling doesn’t come in a week, it’s going in the black can.”

Normally, she said, she’s an avid recycler, with "my green can fuller than my black one."

She and others agreed that the last time their recycling had been picked up was before Christmas, around December 19.

Moran said she would like to see better communication with the community, pointing out that not everyone watches local news or gets all of the channels.

When Will Recycling Finally Get Picked Up?

Recycling pickup should resume for “B week” residents on either January 29 or 30 (the Sharpstown Civic Association’s website says the 30th, but Solid Waste director Wilfalk said the 29th [see below]). It’s probably safest to put your cans out by January 29, just in case.

It also might be worth downloading Solid Waste’s HTX Collects app, which is designed to help residents stay updated on pickups and delays.

Statement from Director Wilfalk

Below is the full statement that Solid Waste Management Department Director Mark Wilfalk released in response to the Sharpener’s questions:

The Solid Waste Management Department apologizes for any inconveniences caused by the disruption in our services. We had every intention of providing scheduled services. However, the unprecedented winter freeze shortened the work week and reduced our ability to provide scheduled services.
In anticipation of the New Year's holiday, we postponed recycling services for two days, planning to resume collections during MLK week. Again, unfortunately, the winter freeze weather further impacted our ability to provide safe and timely service, leading to a temporary suspension.
We fully understand and share the frustration many of our residents are experiencing due to these unforeseen circumstances. Our team is working to address and resolve 3-1-1 service requests as quickly as possible.
As of Monday, January 22, our routes have returned to regular collection schedules. Service for all B-Week residents will resume on Monday, January 29, 2024.
Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your continued patience as we work to restore our services.
Mark Wilfalk
Director Solid Waste Management Department