Houston Recycling Collaboration

About the Houston Recycling Collaboration
On January 19, 2022, the City of Houston, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, Cyclyx International and FCC Environmental Services signed a memorandum of understanding to form the Houston Recycling Collaboration. This new collaboration between government, industry, and the community aims to significantly increase Houston’s plastics recycling rate and help establish the city as a leader for both mechanical and advanced recycling processes.

The collaboration brings together two of the world’s largest chemical companies, each with plans to expand recycling capacity; a leading environmental services company with deep experience in Houston; an innovative circular systems developer; and the fourth largest municipality in the country.

“With Houston as the headquarters for many of the world’s largest plastic manufacturers and with new technology companies moving to the city, we have a huge opportunity to lead not only the nation, but the world, in leveraging new technologies to reduce waste,” said Sylvester Turner, Mayor of the City of Houston.

The collaboration is the first of its kind in the United States, and we hope that this public-private partnership model can serve as a blueprint for other cities across the nation.

Traditionally, plastics that enter the recycling streams have been processed through mechanical methods. Although this has resulted in thousands of tons of plastics per year being recycled, it represents less than 10% of plastics produced with the rest going to landfill, waste-to-energy, or in the environment. (Source: National Overview: Facts & Figures on Materials, Wastes and Recycling, EPA.com)

With the Houston Recycling Collaboration, we’re bringing investment and new technologies to change that paradigm, opening up a new stream in which difficult-to-recycle plastics are turned into new products.

Our aim is to make plastic recycling an easy two-step process for residents:

  1. Collect all plastic – no matter the type – from water bottles and bubble wrap to dry cleaner bags and takeout containers.
  2. Drop off collected plastics at schools, offices, retailers, and other recycling takeback locations to be implemented across the city.

This all plastics collection will be possible thanks to new sorting and recycling technology that our members are building on the Gulf Coast – technologies that can sort and transform all types ofplastic into new products, far beyond the typical items like water bottles and milk jugs.

These technologies include new sorting and pre-processing methods and scaling up both mechanical and advanced recycling.

Technology Graphic

The team is actively developing initiatives in the following areas:

  • Expanding access to infrastructure with a phased approach for residential homes, multi-family dwellings and commercial establishments;
  • Expanding recycling collection and sorting capabilities to include all types of plastics, including those currently difficult to recycle via conventional means;
  • Developing and implementing education and awareness campaigns across the City of Houston on what can be recycled; and
  • Collaborating with other leading organizations to help expand collection systems.

Click below for specific projects underway:

We expect to make additional project announcements in the coming months.

Each member of the Collaboration brings specific expertise and resources:

  • ExxonMobil is investing in advanced recycling facilities around the world, including a new facility in Baytown, Texas, which has processed more than 6,700 metric tons (~15 million pounds) of plastic waste. The company is building a large-scale facility at the site that will have 30,000 metric tons of advanced recycling capacity by year-end 2022 and has plans to scale globally to 500,000 metric tons (~1 billion pounds of plastic waste) of annual advanced recycling capacity. ExxonMobil is a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and a member of the Recycling Partnership, and, in December 2020, the company formed the Cyclyx joint venture alongside Agilyx Corporation. ExxonMobil is a major employer in the greater Houston area, with more than 11,000 employees.
  • LyondellBasell (www.lyondellbasell.com) has a long-standing relationship with the City of Houston, employing several thousand people in the area. Increasing recycled and renewable-based feedstocks is a top priority for the company, with a goal of producing and marketing 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable-based polymers by 2030. The company's products, materials and technologies are advancing sustainable solutions for food safety, access to clean water, healthcare and fuel efficiency in more than 100 international markets. LyondellBasell has stepped up its circularity and climate ambitions and actions to address the global challenges of plastic waste and decarbonization. LyondellBasell is a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and a member of The Recycling Partnership, a founding investor in Closed Loop Partner’s Circular Plastics Fund and Infinity Recycling’s Circular Plastics Fund.
  • Cyclyx is a post-use plastic innovation company that is building an advanced plastic recovery facility in the Houston area. Through its unique know-how and understanding of the chemical composition of post-use plastic and innovative solutions to create custom recycling feedstocks, Cyclyx aims to enable residents and businesses in the city to increase the recycling rates of plastics by providing new recycling options, and leveraging the Cyclyx consortium model to allow this program to scale.
  • FCC Environmental Services is a large recycling company, based in Houston, Texas, that processes all recycling streams collected by the City of Houston’s Solid Waste Department. FCC seeks to maximize the utilization of waste with industry leading expertise and high-tech solutions. FCC´s Houston Recycling facility was named Best Facility in the US in 2020 by the National Waste Recycling ASSOCIATION. FCC, and its family of companies, comprise one of the largest waste collection and recycling groups in the world, employing more than 60,000 employees and providing services for more than 5,000 municipalities all over the globe.
  • The City of Houston is the fourth largest city in the country, and as the Energy Capital of the World, it is home to many plastics and energy companies who are committed to reducing plastic waste and creating a more circular economy. The goals of the Houston Recycling Collaboration align with both the Resilient Houston and Climate Action Plan frameworks.