Jennifer Reynolds/AP

Houston Sponsors Contest to Recycle Hurricane Ike Debris

October 17, 2008 03:21 PM
by Isabel Cowles
The energy capital of America wants to recycle 5.6 million cubic yards of tree waste left in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

Clearing the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

Houston is getting creative about recycling. The city has announced a nationwide contest to recycle the 5.6 million cubic yards of tree waste felled during Hurricane Ike.

City officials are accepting proposals until the end of the month and will offer $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 for the top three submissions. Officials have already considered erosion control, boiler fuel and electric generation, but are looking for more large-scale solutions to deal with the sheer amount of waste.

According to city officials, there is enough tree debris to fill the Houston Astrodome four times over. Houston Mayor Bill Wright said, "We don't want to have to fill up our precious landfill sites with a bunch of wooded waste, so we're going to try to recycle all of it. It will probably be the single biggest recycling project that there is in the country this year."

City officials hope the new ideas will help Houston clear waste in the long-term, even after Ike debris is dealt with. "We want to come up with completely out-of-the-box concepts that can create new markets and scale up existing markets,” Cris Eugster, the mayor’s chief officer for sustainable growth, said. “And we want something that can be implemented sooner rather than later."

Background: Houston goes green

Despite Houston’s notoriously polluted air, the city has taken great measures to go green in the last few years. In 2006, for example, the mayor proposed a recycling contest encouraging Houston neighborhoods to go green.

The “Go Green Houston Recycling Program” was created based on the goal of "Making Houston a Model Environmental City." According to the City of Houston's official Web site, “Mayor Bill White announced the Go Green Competition to promote his environmental plan and vision to increase recycling initiatives in the areas of participation and tonnage for the neighborhoods that received curbside recycling services.” Four neighborhoods were announced winners and each received $5,000 to spend on neighborhood projects.

Houston has also made efforts to build sustainable energy sources. According to a study from the University of San Diego, of all major cities in the United States, Houston ranks second for energy-efficient construction.

The “Discovery Tower,” a 30-story building currently under construction, promises to be Houston’s “most environmentally advanced skyscraper,” reported Lee McGuire for Houston CBS station KHOU. Sporting wind turbines that will supply electrical power for the building, the $300 million tower will have recycled water, and energy-efficient glass and landscaping.

Reference: Recycling Web Guide


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