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Why You Should Sort Your Debris Bookmark

Why You Should Sort Your Debris

For many Precinct 4 residents whose homes flooded, cleanup began as soon as the waters receded and ended less than a week later with towering piles of debris stacked on the curb.

Weeks later, most of that debris remains.

Now that recovery is in full swing, county officials are requesting that residents begin sorting their debris to make the cleanup process speedier and more efficient.

“In many homes, volunteers came and set all the debris out by the curb, and it’s too jumbled to separate. Don’t panic,” said Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “The debris will still be picked up. The process will just be slower, as our contractors are going to have to sort it.

“We ask residents to sort their debris if possible to speed up the process for others. If you want to be a good neighbor, you can help others sort their debris into the six categories recommended by the Storm Debris Removal Hotline.”

Sorting Debris

Because of the large amounts of debris and limited landfill space, keeping unnecessary items such as vegetative debris and other compostable material out of landfills is important. To ensure harmful chemicals and vegetative debris don’t end up in a landfill, sort your debris according to the following categories:

• Vegetative debris (no bags allowed)
• Construction and demolition debris
• Small and large appliances (should be emptied and taped shut)
• Electronics
• Household Hazardous Waste (paint, batteries, tires)

Debris removal crews will make three passes in each neighborhood. After each pass, residents should move their debris closer to the curb. Debris not placed within a county right-of-way within 15 feet of the curb will not be picked up. While moving debris closer after each pass, residents are encouraged to take the opportunity to sort their debris.

Please do not bag your debris. However, if bagging is necessary, use a clear bag. Normal household waste will not be picked up.

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Residents should also be on the lookout for household hazardous waste such as paint, automotive chemicals, batteries, and lawn chemicals in their debris piles.

“Debris that contains hazardous material will not be touched until the hazardous waste is dealt with,” said Commissioner Cagle. “If you can’t sort your debris fully, please at least remove hazardous waste from the pile.”

Hazardous waste may be any of the following materials: car batteries, motor oil and filters, antifreeze, tires, latex and oil-based paint, paint strippers and thinners, household chemicals, flammable liquids, mercury, herbicides, pesticides, lawn chemicals, pool chemicals, aerosols, small propane cylinders, cleaners, cooking oil, grease, fluorescent bulbs, and rechargeable batteries.

Household hazardous waste should be taken to the County’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 6900 Hahl Road for disposal. For more information on hazardous waste, visit

The county recycles or recovers approximately 75 percent of the hazardous material it collects. The remaining percentage is treated to destroy the hazardous components and disposed of.

Debris removal will be ongoing throughout unincorporated Harris County. If you are in the process of cleanup and debris removal from your property, please take precautions to prevent disaster-related casualties and fatalities.

Be aware of damaged water, gas, and electric lines.
Be aware of damaged building and construction materials.
Do not attempt to conduct major tree work or reconstruction without proper equipment, permits, and training. Be aware of household hazardous waste and contaminants.

Report any hazardous materials spills to: Harris County Pollution Control Services Department at 713-920-2831.

For additional information about debris separation, debris removal, and residential damage assessments, please call the Harris County Residential Debris and Damage Assessment Hotline at 713-274-3880 or email

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