Poll: How Much Are You Willing to Pay to Recycle Yard Waste?

October 2, 2013 By:InstantNewsWestu Staff

Local News

West U just raised solid waste fees and may be asking residents to pay an additional fee to recycle yard waste in the coming months.


Residents will be paying an additional $2 a month in solid waste fees starting in January to cover the cost of a decline in the sale of recyclables. Senior citizens and disabled residents will be paying $1 more a month. The West U City Council will close the recycling center in January to make up for revenue shortfalls.

City staff is also projecting an increase in solid waste fees in 2015.

This November, the city council may ask residents to pay approximately $2 more a month on top of the rate increase to pay to recycle yard waste.

Would you be willing to pay $2 a month to recycle your yard clippings instead of dumping them in the landfill

View Results

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City Manager Michael Ross said council has asked to talk about implementing yard waste recycling and will be having a discussion about the city’s fee schedule in November. Council will look at fees for green waste as well as recreation fees, he said.

The city recycled yard waste from around 1994 to 2006, Assistant Public Works Director Dave Beach said. During that time,  the city collected between 1,400 and 1,600 tons each year.

Yard waste is now collected with trash and diverted to a landfill.  Because yard waste is collected with trash the cost is the same, approximately $32 a ton, he said.

Yard waste, commonly referred to as green waste, is composed of grass, flower cuttings and hedge trimmings, as well as domestic and commercial food waste.

Beach said the city stopped recycling yard waste because the city’s composter, located off of IH-610, sold its property and the closest composter that could handle the volume of yard waste was located on US 290 past Beltway 8. The facility was not close enough for the city’s trucks to drop off the yard waste and make it back in time to complete their routes, he said.

If city council decides to implement yard waste recycling, there is a composter located east of SH 288 and Beltway 8 that the city would look at, Beach said.

The estimated cost of implementing recycling yard waste is about $125,000, Beach said, which would cost residents about $2 a month.

Every year the council hears recommendations from it’s Recycling and Solid Waste and Reduction Board.

“Every year we ask them and every year we’re turned down,” Immediate Past Chair of the Recycling and Solid Waste and Reduction Board Jan Kellogg said. “Their argument is that it’s always too expensive.” contacted the mayor and city council about their thoughts on yard waste and many of them said they need to know more before they formed a decision about whether or not they support it.

“There’s always been good reasons not to do it,” Mayor Bob Fry said. “If there is something new to discuss I’ll listen.”

Fry said that council has always been fiscally conservative but they are having to deal with solid waste fees one way or the other.

“It’s not an easy one,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts.”

Councilwoman Joan Johnson said she doesn’t know enough about it at this time.

“If we can do it and justify it that would be great,” she said.

Councilman Ed Heathcott said the whole city would have to buy into recycling yard waste.

“We as a community haven’t bought in on recycling,” he said. “It seems we don’t have a citywide inclination to recycle. I don’t see the majority of citizens are wanting to do this.”

Councilman Dick Yehle said he needs more information, but in his mind he doesn’t see yard waste as a pollutant.

“Council clearly needs to make a decision on it,” he said. “Its very difficult when you have these cost items because you fight like the devil to save a buck here and spend a buck there.”

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sample says she will support implementing recycling yard waste.

“I’m for it,” she said. “Our motto is the city that recycles. I want to be fiscally conservative but green waste isn’t much.”

21 Responses to “Poll: How Much Are You Willing to Pay to Recycle Yard Waste?”

  1. Sidewalk Says:

    As long as they aren’t charging me AND making me use the 90 gallon containers, I will probably abide. If this is a precursor to paying for personal dumpsters and new trucks to replace our new trucks, West U’, you’ve got another thing comin.

  2. Mrs. G Says:

    Come on council, close the recycling center and then turn around and charge us to “recycle” our yard clippings. At least they will decompose in a short time, the plastics taken to recycling will take much longer. They will now be placed in the garbage thanks to your fiscal convervatism.

  3. E Forster Says:

    It is estimated that over 80% of household waste can be reused, recycled or composted. Whilst over 90% West U residents participate in recycling, I doubt there are too many who can claim to put only 20% of their household waste out as trash, but it is something we should all be aiming for. Recycling our yard waste is a step in the right direction. Every ton of trash costs West U $32 in landfill costs. Perhaps we should be concentrating on reusing, reducing our consumption, increasing our recycling rate, which will reduce our trash and then the solid waste fees wont have to be increased.

  4. Brokelyn Says:

    Miltonwatchdog — that was uncalled for. For the record I do indeed live in West U and my kid goes to WUES. Also, for the record, I do care what you think (in this post as well as the many others that you have contributed to) and I agree that one should find a yard service company that will comply with the home owner’s request to use recycling bags.

    I think LHG offers us a lot of good insights as well even though she no longer lives in West U. She has chimed in with historical reference points regarding our city in her other postings and she provides us with some fresh views based on where she now lives.

    West U Resident and Give me Liberty — thank you both for supporting civility. This forum has a very high signal-to-noise level due to all of the people who care enough to provide thoughtful analysis and opinion. We may not always agree, but the level of discourse helps all of us better understand the issues of our City.

  5. miltonwatchdog Says:

    Good point on whether a yard service will comply. Fire them and find one that will. Simple solution.

    And, Brokelyn, don’t you live in Katy or Tomball? No one in West U really cares what you think about our yard waste.

    • West U Resident Says:

      Uh, grumpy ol’ Milton just insulted one of his neighbors, Brokelyn.
      “Lucille Gallman”, a/k/a “Katy” is the ex-West U resident who used to post on these boards from her home in Cinco Ranch. There’s no need to be mean to other posters.

      • LHG Says:

        I used “Katie” not “Katy”. Be glad West U is concerned with managing yard waste and not feral hogs. Today Channel 13 had a story about them tearing up yards in Cinco Ranch.

  6. Mardi Turner Says:

    Sooner or later someone is going to mention that their yard service won’t comply – so let’s get that out on the table while we are having this discussion.

  7. Rick Kellogg Says:

    Let’s see: $125k / 1500 tons = $83. Recycling grass clippings costs $83/ton?! That’s $50/ton more than what the City pays to landfill unsorted garbage.
    Sure makes me wonder how much thought went into the $125k estimate.
    Also makes me wonder whether City Council thinks to question staff when presented with numbers that don’t pass even an elementary smell test…
    In any event, even if the estimate is valid, I am still in favor of recycling yard waste. There is no excuse for an affluent city like ours to act like a slob.

    • yvonne jacobs Says:

      Actually, I think Living Earth (the composting folds) charge about $20/ton to compost yard waste compared to the City of Houston’s $32/ton charged to landfill it. The estimated costs are based on trucks, gasoline, personnel, etc.

    • vanderbilt resident Says:

      Aren’t these the same numbers that passed your wife’s recycling board’s smell test? It was my understanding that her board recommended that Council approve the $125,000 estimated annual yard waste cost to the residents. Of course they also thought we should all be using the large Houston rolling containers for our garbage and recycling.

  8. LHG Says:

    I don’t know what everyone is paying for the tall brown paper bags, but Target has a bundle of 18 for about $8.99 in their stores. They also carry the smaller bundles like most stores. The big bundles are in the gardening section while the small bundles are with regular trash bags. When I lived in West U I had so much lawn clippings from trees, bushes, etc. I bought the Lawn and Leaf Bags every time I went to the store. I think it is a little amusing that out here on the Katy Prairie I can buy so many more in a bundle. They are a little heavy though.

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Thanks LHG. Hopefully people will read this and realize that it doesn’t cost a lot and isn’t a hassle to buy recycling bags.

  9. Jan Kellogg Says:

    And thank you for the recognition.

  10. Jan Kellogg Says:

    Mardi, yes I know it is possible to buy the bags. My point is that there is no incentive to do so.

    • Brokelyn Says:

      What kind of incentive are you referring to?

      If we were living hand-to-mouth and buying recycling bags were a financial burden then it would make sense. For the vast majority of us in West U I suspect that incentives are not a necessity.

  11. yvonne jacobs Says:

    Diverting yard waste from landfill is pretty much a no-brainer when you look at the facts. Houston’s three landfills will not last forever….when they are full, more landfills must be found. The projected life span of the three landfills is12.5 , 4.5 and 17 years respectively. West U uses City of Houston landfills. Where will the next landfills be constructed? Not in your backyard, right! Yard waste is composed and used again… is rich in nutrients, helps soil structure, is beneficial for soil life, and improves water quality….do we really want to trash such a value commodity that promotes sustainability? I’d gladly pay $2/month to help our landfills have a longer life and to promote sustainability . Plain and simple our present course IS NOT sustainable.

  12. Mardi Turner Says:

    Jan – You can buy the yard bags at Randall’s, Home Depot, etc… and have been able to do so all along.

    Doesn’t do much good though if green waste is still going to the landfill.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  13. Jan Kellogg Says:

    Problem is, residents haven’t even been given the option to buy bags for yard waste since 2006. Why does this city have a recycling board if no one is interested in recycling? And why does a council, who has no interest in it either apparently, continue to appoint a board every two years and allow it to devote countless volunteer hours to promote recycling and solid waste reduction?

  14. Brokelyn Says:

    We are one of the richest cities in the country and we gripe about a small fee to do something that is unequivocally positive for ourselves and our environment?!

    Keep hoarding your pennies folks, some day they will buy you a pretty gravestone in a pretty park.

  15. Tangley Resident Says:

    Problem is, not enough residents are interested enough to buy the proper trash bags to make this work.

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