A group including LyondellBasell Industries has formed the Houston Recycling Collaboration in an attempt to improve the recycling rate in the fourth-largest city in the U.S.
In addition to Houston-based LyondellBasell and city government, the HRC includes ExxonMobil Corp., chemical recycler Cyclyx International and solid waste manager FCC Environmental Services. LyondellBasell and ExxonMobil are major suppliers of polyethlene and polypropylene resins and other plastics materials.
In an interview with Plastics News, LyondellBasell executive Palmer Giddings said that the HRC "wants to increase recycling rates in Houston and provide education as well."
Giddings, the firm's vice president of polyolefins and circularity in the Americas, added that the collaboration could include takeback programs for plastics bags or other plastic products.
"It's vital to us and to the many employees we have in Houston to open up a circular economy," he said.
Officials said the collaboration "aims to make a step change in Houston's plastics recycling rate and help establish the city as a leader for both conventional and advanced recycling processes."
The HRC will focus on expanding access to recycling programs for the community and local businesses, improving community education and awareness and enabling the recycling of plastics that are difficult to recycle via conventional means. Officials added that the proposed approach "will be the first of its kind in the United States and will help to drive scalable, community-focused solutions that accelerate plastic recycling."
Brent Taylor, the city of Houston's deputy press secretary, told PN that the city "sees [the HRC] as an opportunity to significantly increase the amount of recycling in Houston."
Houston currently provides curbside recycling to about 400,000 households, Taylor said, ranging from single-family homes to multi-family buildings of up to eight units. The city then delivers those materials to FCC for processing.
Currently, the city recycles an estimated 15 percent of plastics and other materials from households. That rate is up from an estimated 3 percent in 2008.
"This is a good way to keep plastics and other materials out of our neighborhoods and bayous and waterways and get it back into the circular economy," Taylor said.