Tag Archives: Bloomberg Initiative

PPP Power: Houston Wins the Bloomberg Challenge

As if the Art Car parade wasn’t sufficient evidence, Houstonians have proven once again that they really know how to turn today’s trash into tomorrow’s treasure. Per Mayor Annise Parker’s announcement, Houston was one of 5 cities selected (out of 305 submissions) that won the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayoral Challenge. The city will receive a $1 million dollar prize to get the ‘One Bin For All’ concept rolling, along with lots of high-profile publicity from the Huffington Post. Houston was also chosen as the Fan Favorite selection (presumably for having the most number of votes from the Huffington Post website poll), and will receive another $50,000 dollar prize for that. The top prize of $5 million went to Providence, and Houston is one of 5 winners at the $1 million dollar level. Here’s more information directly from the City of Houston Press Release

“I am thrilled that Houston has been selected as a Mayors Challenge winner,” said Mayor Parker. “One Bin for All is a first-of-its kind innovation that will revolutionize the way we handle trash, achieving high-volume recycling and waste diversion, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower operating costs. I am anxious to begin implementation because I know this cutting-edge technology has the potential to improve health and quality of life not only in Houston, but around the world.”

“Recycling has often been treated as an individual responsibility, like paying taxes. But Mayor Parker’s innovative One Bin For All idea turns that notion on its head,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. “Achieving a 75% recycling recovery rate in Houston would represent a huge leap forward in urban sustainability practices.”

One Bin for All utilizes game-changing technology to separate trash from recyclables, allowing residents to discard all materials in one bin. The anticipated end result is a dramatic increase in the amount of waste diverted from our landfills. Implementation will be achieved through a public/private partnership.

This got me thinking about just what makes Houston a great city. Definitely at the top of the list, is the willingness of our local government to reach out to area businesses and create ground-breaking Public/Private Partnerships. One Bin For All is just the latest, high-profile example, but Houston has been an international leader in innovative “P3s”… whether they be Discovery Green Park, the Bayou Greenways Initiative, or even vital services like Houston Transtar have been achieved through P3s. It’s one reason that Houston, and so many local governments are able to make things happen. The Public/Private Partnership model spurs innovation and leads to the creation of new industries. It makes life better and more interesting for us all.

Maybe our federal leaders should come down, spend some time in Houston, and help Washington work better!!

Recycling Re-imagined: Houston’s ‘One Bin For All’ Initiative

As 21st century people, we’re pretty used to rapid innovation. After all, the very notion of this blog is less than 20 years old. Some of the innovations that we can’t live without… phones that double as personal computers, cloud storage, digital transmission… must have seemed like a distant pipe dream before we had them. Though sometimes, when I’m downloading a song to my iPhone, I do have to just stop for a second and marvel at how rapidly the process of acquiring music has changed.

Sometimes the pace of change is so fast that we don’t realize that combining these innovations can be a huge leap forward in itself. Well, the city of Houston, Texas is “literally” going to turn trash into treasure. With the revolutionary ‘One Bin For All’ plan, citizen waste disposal and recycling will become a relic of the past. Houston, under Mayor Annise Parker’s leadership, wants to create a state-of-the-art waste facility that will specialize in ‘total reuse’… reclaiming recyclables from every piece of trash in the city. The plant will combine the lastest technology of digital imaging, filtering and sorting to create a high-speed, high accuracy concept. If successful, this would cut down the city’s landfill usage by a whopping 75 percent.

Of course a plant like this is expensive… with an estimated cost of $100 million dollars. But by turning all city trash into net recycling, the city creates jobs, saves time, and wastes less. And of course the payback to the environment is even better than money could buy. As an entry in the Bloomberg initiative, Houston has the chance to make One Bin For All a reality.

This is not to say that there aren’t other fantastic finalists in the Mayor’s challenge… I would encourage you to check out all of the entries through Huffington Post. But this blogger’s all in with One Bin For All.