While we know of places that don't recycle at all, Houston is the worst among cities that do. Only 2.6% of the city's trash is recycled. The rest goes straight to landfill.
Landfill space is cheap, but with some residents waiting 10 years for a simple recycling bin, that can't be the whole story...
As the article and a short video explain, Houston doesn't have zoning, so it's sprawled out to an even greater degree than other American cities. Therefore, picking up recycling is expensive, because trucks have to drive long distances. Also, landfill space is cheap... but not as cheap as other places that do have recycling programs.
We haven't done the analysis, but it seems that if every household had a big recycling bin and a small trash can, then the pick up could be done affordably.
We're all for incremental progress—sometimes small steps, like changing a light bulb to a CFL, can make a big difference. But it seems recycling is an all-or-nothing proposition.
Do you think recycling should be mandatory, even if it costs you more money?
image by kaliyoda via sxc.hu