Viewer Mike from the Cypress area sent us this question:
"I've heard that very little of what is picked up from households to be recycled is actually processed as recycled materials, as little as 20%. Is that true?"
WHAT WE FOUND
Republic Services, which provides trash and recycling services in the Houston area, said that in theory, 100% of what is placed in the bin could be recycled. But, when it comes to reality, incorrect items - what they call contaminants - often end up in residential recycling bins.
The company doesn't track local numbers but said nationwide, roughly 25% of what comes into their recycling centers can't actually be recycled.
Waste Management, which also provides services in the Houston area, had similar numbers. About 72% of materials they receive at their Houston Westside Recycling Center are processed for reuse. An estimated 28% of items that reach their facility are found to be not recyclable and end up in a landfill.
In the City of Houston, those numbers are slightly different. A representative for Solid Waste Management told the VERIFY team that 64% of materials they receive are recycled and 36% are unable to be.
At the national level, recycling numbers have lagged way behind.
The most recent data from EPA in 2018 shows that roughly 23% of all solid waste is recycled.
So, we can VERIFY that at the national level, it's true. Less than a quarter of household trash gets recycled. But, here in Houston - we're doing a much better job recycling.
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