EAST ALDINE – A 2- acre neighborhood depository and recycling center aimed at making East Aldine “cleaner and greener” is nearing completion, with a phased-in grand opening will open this March 22.
The center, funded by the East Aldine Management District, will operate at 2789 Hopper Rd. near the water treatment facility on the east side of Halls Bayou.
East Aldine Landscape Services will manage the facility as a place for area residents to dispose of heavy trash, furniture, yard waste and even old tires, said Richard Cantu, executive director of the East Aldine Management District.
East Aldine Landscape Services’ clients include the city of Houston, Metro and several area management districts.
“This is something that has been in the works for about eight years,” Cantu said. “Residents expressed a desire for a place to get rid of heavy trash and keep their neighborhood looking clean.”
Residents of East Aldine have long complained about unsightly and illegal dump sites, where old mattresses, unwanted furniture and other items are piled by the road, along with used tires that can become a dangerous breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The new recycling program comes at a time when many cities and other governments are scaling back on recycling programs.
But district and East Aldine Landscape Services officials are confident that recycling – done right – will have environmental and economic benefits in an area that has been plagued by illegal sites.
“This facility will be the first of its kind,” said Selina Valdez, recycling coordinator for East Aldine Landscape Services. “We want to be successful in educating residents while raising the quality of life in East Aldine.”
Despite recent studies showing that recycling programs have faced rising costs, the 2019 Texas Legislature directed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to conduct an extensive study on recycling.
That 318-page report concluded that Texas would run out of landfill space by 2030, showing the need for certain materials to be recycled rather than buried.
“The bottom line is that the state of Texas is trying to make it possible for recycling to become profitable,” Valdez said.
She cites the example of North Vernon, Ind., population 7,200. The city is home to a plastic bag recycling plant, where supermarket plastic bags used across the U.S. are produced by the city’s recycling plant.
“That tiny little town produces most of the grocery bags that we use every day,” Valdez said.
Exxon Corp. has invested $100 billion worldwide in facilities to recycle “hard” plastics that had been nearly impossible to recycle, Valdez said, and one of the first is in Baytown.
“This could become a big economic opportunity for a community like East Aldine,” Valdez said. “We could benefit from a strong and well-run recycling program.”
In 2020, a Columbia University Climate School study noted that a key problem with the recycling industry was a 2018 decision by China to ban the importation of most plastics and other materials that were not up to very stringent purity standards. The U.S. then started sending its plastic waste to other countries in southeast Asia and Africa. The eventual result was that about 70 percent of “recycled plastics” ended up in landfills or oceans.
When the market for plastics dried up, municipalities began to cut back on their recycling programs, with more than 60 cities ending curbside recycling.
The Columbia study concluded, however, that there are still many economic benefits from recycling programs. According to that study, the global plastic recycling market is projected to grow by nearly $15 billion by 2024.
The East Aldine District’s environmental effort will continue to be aided by strict enforcement of unlawful dumping, with help from the Harris County Sheriff’s Department’s nuisance abatement team.
Deputies under contract with the district recently caught two Houston scofflaws who were illegally dumping trash in Keith-Wiess Park. The men were fined for their nighttime crime.
The new East Aldine Landscape Services facility will have two dumpsters for old furniture and mattresses and two for yard waste. Another dumpster will be for disposal of old tires, which will be recycled by a separate vendor.
Cantu said use of the center will be phased in gradually, with East Aldine neighborhoods notified in staggered mailings about waste and trash that will be recycled. Use of the center will be limited to residents and not for use by building contractors or commercial enterprises.
The Recycle Center will be open by Appointments only. Call 713-454-7185 for an appointment. ID and proof of East Aldine residency will be required. The Recycle Center will accept scrap metal, furniture, beds, tires, yard waste and more. The center is located at 2789 Hopper Road, off Foy Lane.
—By Anne Marie Kilday