While other Texas cities are working hard to separate their garbage, Houston still considers recycling to be sissy stuff, earning the oil town the worst recycling rate of 30 top US cities. Houston recycles just 2.6% of its trash, the New York Times reports, while San Francisco is at 69%, and New York 34%, by comparison. Environmental advocates are begging for reforms, but area landfills are so cheap there’s little enthusiasm for change.
The city says it cannot even afford recycling bins for the 25,000 residents who've requested them, and in the sprawling, zoning-free city, sending trucks to pick up scattered bins isn’t cost effective. Mayor Bill White favors recycling reform, but knows it’s a tough sell. “We have an independent streak,” he says, “that rebels against mandates or anything that seems trendy or hyped up.”