Solid Waste Management Services

Solid Waste Cart Management
Effective July 1, 2020 and pursuant to City of Houston Ordinance Amending Sections 39-1, 39-49, 39-62, AND 39-63, passed by City Council on 05/13/2020, a $1.14 cart fee will be charged to water accounts that receive COH Solid Waste Service.

The City of Houston offers industry-grade, highly durable garbage and recycling carts for use in City provided collection service. The carts are furnished with wheels to roll the carts to the curb as well as lids to help keep garbage and recyclables contained to prevent litter and prevent animals from easily accessing garbage. The garbage carts are black, and the recycling carts are green and are clearly labeled for recyclables. The carts are maintained and repaired by the City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department.

The cart fee covers the provision, maintenance and replacement of carts during their typical 10-year lifespan. The fee is $0.57 per month per cart, which is collected via your water monthly bill for residents with City of Houston water service. Non-water service residents will be billed directly for the cart fee. The cart fee applies as well to businesses that contract with the city for solid waste services utilizing up to three (3) 96-gallon containers.

Residential Services
The Solid Waste Management Department's services consist of:

In addition, the SWMD operates waste, recycling and materials handling facilities at no additional fee to residents.

Commercial Dumpster Permits
In order to obtain a Combustible Waste Storage Permit, you must complete an application.

> Learn more about Commercial Dumpster Permits here...
Citizens with Disabilities Application for Services
   > Application (.pdf)

Special Collection Assistance for the Physically Challenged

The City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) offers physically challenged-customers special collection assistance at no additional cost to them.  The SWMD offers this service to residents who qualify.

To obtain this service, submit a Service Request (SR) by calling 3-1-1 and a “Citizens with Disabilities Application for Services” form. 

Specific details are as follows:

  • The individual requesting assistance or their representative must call the city’s helpline at 3-1-1 to place an SR.
  • After placing the SR, the “Citizens with Disabilities Application for Services” form must be submitted showing the physician’s certification that the individual is physically challenged and unable to place the container at the curb for collection.  If there is more than one individual living in the home, one form will be submitted certifying that all individuals living in the home are physically challenged.  The form is available on-line here.
  • 311 will forward the SR to the SWMD who will then assign the SR to one of it's inspectors. 
  • The SWMD inspector will go to the home and confirm that the individual or individuals in the household are physically challenged.
  • Special collection assistance will commence within seven to 10 days upon receipt of the physician’s certification and completion of the home inspection. 
Sponsorship Programs
Sponsorship programs are set up by the City to allow homeowner associations the opportunity to obtain collection services beyond those provided by the City through a contractor of their choice.  Homeowners’ associations are incorporated entities that have membership that consists of the owners of single-family residences in a defined geographic community.

   > Application (.pdf)
  > Learn more about the Sponsorship Program
Want to know when your collection day is? This page details your SWMD schedule of services with detailed maps .pdf maps and customized information by address.

Residential Garbage Collection
Residents of the City of Houston receive weekly automated garbage collection in which they receive a 96-gallon garbage cart. The automated collection system utilizes a technologically advanced system in which a mechanical side arm grabs the 96-gallon garbage cart, then lifts the container, collects garbage into the truck and returns the container to the curb.

Automated trash collection is cleaner, safer and more efficient than traditional manual collection. In the past, the department has incurred as much as $4 million in workers' compensation costs each year using manual garbage collection. The automated system has reduced injuries, especially back-related injuries, which are common in garbage collection.

The containers used for automated garbage collection are manufactured using 50% recycled materials.

Yard Trimmings Recycling

Houston residents receive once a week yard waste collection of grass, leaves and small branches as part of their solid waste services package. Yard waste collection happens on the same day as garbage collection. Per City ordinance yard waste must be placed in a City Approved compostable bag for collection. The City currently has two approved bags: Biobag USA City of Houston Lawn & Leaf Bags; and Waste Zero City of Houston Approved 100% Compostable Lawn & Leaf Bags. Look for these two bags for sale at your local grocery or hardware store retailer.

When it comes to yard trimmings, you have options! Visit each tab for more information...

Grasscycling | Compostable Bags | Composting

>> City Approved Compostable Bags are Available at these Houston area Retailers

The yard trimmings collection service is offered to all citizens who receive the automated garbage collection service. Yard trimmings make up approximately 30% of the total residential waste stream in Houston. Recycling yard trimmings saves the city in landfill costs and extends the life of landfills.

Grass clippings, small branches, and leaves must not be placed in the automated garbage cans. They must be put in city-approved compostable bags, not weighing more than 50 pounds, and placed at the curb 3 feet away from the automated container for separate yard trimming collection.

Small branches may be put in bundles as long as each bundle is less than 4 feet in length, 18 inches in diameter, and not weighing more than 50 pounds.

Yard trimmings mixed with paper, plastic or any other type of waste will not be collected.

Dead Animal Collection
To request a dead animal collection to be serviced by the City of Houston SWMD, please call 3-1-1 or submit an online service request here.

In an effort to make Houston a cleaner, greener place to live, the SWMD provides recycling and waste diversion services to the residents of Houston. For a complete detail about yard trimmings, residential recycling and waste diversion, visit the link below.

Extra Capacity Garbage Collection
Do you often have more trash than one garbage container can hold? Do you need to have an extra garbage bag that needs to be collected? The SWMD offers options to meet your extra garbage collection needs.

Disposal Facilities
Residents who wish to discard junk waste or tree waste before their scheduled once-per-month pickup may use one of neighborhood depository/recycling centers at the following locations shown below.

City of Houston Neighborhood Depositories and Recycling Centers

Neighborhood Depository/Recycling Centers
(Accepts Tree Waste/Junk Waste and Recyclables. Service provided to City of Houston residents)
Neighborhood Recycling Drop-off Locations
Recycling Centers (Tree Waste/Junk Waste not accepted)
Environmental Service Center (ESC) Locations
   > Depository Rules and Regulations (.pdf)
   > Depository Rules and Regulations - SPANISH (.pdf)
  > Learn more about additional Houston Area Disposal facilities.

These depositories may be used by the public free of charge. Each user must provide proof of residency using a current utility bill or City property tax receipt, and may use this facilities up to four times per month.

Neighborhood depositories will not accept household garbage, more than ten tires from an individual, and large quantities of building materials. Trash from commercial haulers is not accepted.  Trash brought in a commercial vehicle (business or rented commercial) also will not be accepted.