Municipal solid waste includes residential and industrial waste. Solid
waste is usually disposed of in landfills or recycled. Paper and yard
trimmings make up a large percentage of the waste in municipal landfills. Houston's commercial and residential sectors produce 1.6 million tons of municipal solid waste every year. The
City of Houston
Department of Solid Waste Management
picks up approximately 35 percent of this waste, whereas private companies handle
the rest. The department maintains a comprehensive
sites, schedules and other important information about properly disposing waste.
The city also works closely with neighborhoods to promote clean-up activities.
For more information, contact the
City of Houston
Department of Solid Waste Management or the local citizen's group,
Hazardous waste, defined as that which is toxic, corrosive, flammable,
or ignitable needs to be disposed of properly. The City of Houston and area
counties operate hazardous waste facilities. It is illegal to dump these
materials into storm drains or ditches. The Houston-Galveston Area Council
maintains a comprehensive
website on area disposal facilities and programs.
Potentially infectious medical waste, generated by hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and other treatment, testing, or research facilities, is usually incinerated or transported to landfills.
Storage and transport of nuclear waste raise concerns about potential radiation
exposure. Commercial nuclear waste is handled differently from government-generated nuclear waste. Nuclear waste from both sources is classified as either high- or low-level waste (HLW or LLW).
Typically, LLW from commercial power plants, hospitals, and non-military sources is incinerated, compacted, or shredded, although larger nuclear power plants may transport waste to an out-of-state federally approved disposal site. Government-generated LLW is either disposed of on-site or shipped to a US Department of Energy site for disposal. Commercial HLW consists primarily of spent nuclear fuel and is
currently stored on-site at each plant. Most government HLW is stored in underground tanks and vaults. Many of the nationís weapons facilities are highly contaminated.
Improper disposal of waste is an environmental health hazard and should be
promotly reported. In Houston, call 713-222-3131, the non-emergency
Houston Police Department dispatch number, if you see dumping in progress. To
report a fresh pile of trash, call the cityís Rat-on-a-Rat program,
713-525-2728 (you may be eligible for a $200 reward!).