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Texas Campaign for the Environment and Zero Waste Houston campaign on "One Bin for All"

A timeline of grassroots organizing to defeat a proposal that would eliminate real recycling in order to implement dirty materials recovery facility paired with a polluting waste to fuel plant.

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  1. August 15, 2012: TCE is made aware that a company is proposing a dirty materials recovery facility (dirty MRF, a.k.a. mixed waste processing or "One bin for All") in Houston. These facilities historically achieve low recycling rates due to contamination both of recyclables and organic matter.
  2. October, 10 2012: The City of Dallas loses a federal lawsuit after the City illegally passed a "flow control" ordinance to increase City revenue by directing all private waste materials to a dirty MRF proposed by Organic Energy Corporation at its city-owned McCommas Bluff landfill. WFAA covers the details.
  3. October 10, 2012: City of Austin's Zero Waste Advisory Commission unanimously passes a resolution against dirty MRF technology, saying "reliance on a dirty MRF would undermine efforts to transform a culture of disposability into a culture of sustainability."
  4. October 24, 2012: TCE meets with the City of Houston's Office of Sustainability and expresses concerns about the proposal and advocates the city instead expand two and three bin recycling and composting programs.
  5. October 29, 2012: TCE Executive Director Robin Schneider tours dirty MRF in Placer County, California, witnessing soiled, low-value recyclable materials coming out of the process along with dangerous working conditions.
  6. November 5, 2012: Mayor Parker announces that "One Bin for All" is among the 20 finalists for a Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayor's Challenge grant.
  7. November 12, 2012: TCE raises a series of questions about the proposal in an Off the Kuff blog article about the Mayor's Office applying for a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
  8. March 12, 2013: Houston announces it has won $1 million to build the facility. Also mention that they did a big public push to get people to vote for it and it won the "People's Choice" award.
  9. March 13, 2013: TCE and Dr. Robert Bullard, Father of Environmental Justice, held a press conference to oppose the dirty MRF proposal and release open letters signed by zero waste advocates and recycling industry professionals. The letters state support for a Zero Waste plan, similar to plans written in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, to divert waste from landfills sustainably through separate bins for recycling and compost, education and incentives.
  10. April 2013: TCE Houston canvassers begin generating letters addressed to Mayor Parker and City Council members from constituents who oppose the proposal and support expanded recycling programs all over Houston.
  11. June 12, 2013: City of Houston releases Request for Qualifications that includes incineration methods such as "gasification...catalytic conversion" and suggests that the facility be built at an existing waste facility, all of which are located in low income communities of color.

  12. Mayor @AnniseParker says city now accepting bids for #onebinforall recycling program. #abc13
    Mayor @AnniseParker says city now accepting bids for #onebinforall recycling program. #abc13
  13. July 30, 2013: Ecolution, a company run by the same individuals as Organic Energy Corporation, breaks contract with City of Lancaster, CA and implies that they are focusing on Houston.
  14. August 21, 2013: Sierra Club Houston Regional Group passes a resolution against proposal and calling for the city to adopt a long-term Zero Waste Plan.
  15. Why Houston's "One Bin for All" Proposal is Bad for the Environment
  16. September 28, 2013: TCE staff confronted Laura Spanjian at the Texas Tribune festival, where she defended the proposal.
  17. October 7, 2013: SXSW Eco panelists sign open letter to Mayor Parker against dirty MRFs and incinerators. SXSW Eco had scheduled a panel on the topic of "One Bin for All" featuring Laura Spanjian, but it was cancelled after TCE said we would hold a silent protest during the panel. TCE holds silent protest at another panel on which Laura Spanjian was speaking instead. Signers include Story of Stuff Founder Annie Leonard, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and Hip Hop Caucus founder Rev. Lennox Yearwood.
  18. October 14, 2013: TCE Executive Director Robin Schneider and Program Director Andrew Dobbs confront Mayor Annise Parker at State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) conference, where she defends the proposal in her speech to attendees.
  19. November 2013: City of Houston receives responses from bidders in response to the Request for Qualifications but will not release names of respondents.
  20. February 22, 2014: TCE and newly formed Zero Waste Houston coalition holds rally at City Hall. 40 participants include TCE, members of Sierra Club Houston Regional Group, Houston Peace and Justice Center, San Jacinto River Coalition and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services. Activists testify before City Council opposing the dirty MRF and advocating for a Zero Waste plan. The Controversy receives local press coverage in addition to an article in the New York Times.

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