PORT NECHES —
How it works
The main reason recycling programs have been unsuccessful in Southeast Texas, according to Mike Wilson, district manager for Waste Management in the Golden Triangle, is because there are so many landfills.
“In other parts of the country, like the Northeast or Northwest, landfills charge anywhere from $60 to $120 a ton,” he said. “Here it’s about $20.”
According to an annual report by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, there are four landfills in the Golden Triangle which accounted for more than 700,000 tons of waste in 2010.
“There’s so much land, and it’s so cheap, it doesn’t force people to look at another option,” Wilson said.
Waste Management has noticed a growing interest in recycling in Port Neches, according to Wilson, and the company recently increased collection in that area.
“We started about a year and a half ago with three bins picked up once a week,” he said. “Now we have four bins that are picked up three times a week. They’re used consistently.”
Waste Management also has recycling deals with Beaumont, Nederland and Orange County, though Beaumont is the only one offering a curb-side program.
“As people start to move here from other areas where recycling was prevalent, we think it will start to change,” Wilson said. “We’re betting recycling will be a big part of the whole country within the next few years.”
Beaumont tried to offer city-wide recycling in the late 90s, only to have the program go under for lack of interest. Now, after requests from city council members and citizens, the city is trying something new.
Chris Boone, community development director for Beaumont, said a committee was established in 2010 to find out if the recycling program should be restarted, and a survey was conducted to map out the interested areas.
“We knew going in a city-wide program would not work,” he said.
The city soon made an agreement with Waste Management to offer curb-side recycling to the predetermined areas. Not only has the program been successful, Boone said, but interest is starting to grow.
“The whole idea was to implement the program residents requested,” he said. “Since the majority of the city does not use it, it’s not worth while to make the program city-wide. Hopefully subscriptions will keep increasing.”
For now, Port Arthur residents will have to rely on drop-off locations at landfills or participate in events by the Texas Recyclers Association Inc., a local grassroots non-profit.
“It takes more than a few people to have a demand,” Wilson said. “Sometimes the process is slow.”