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Houston Named as Top 20 Finalist in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge

City of Houston
Nov. 5, 2012

Mayor Annise Parker today announced Houston has been selected as a top 20 finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition created to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and that ultimately can be shared with other cities across the nation.

Houston was selected based on its innovative idea to tap game-changing technology for a new “one bin for all” plan that makes recycling easier for every Houstonian and diverts 75% of all waste.

The innovation, entitled “Total Reuse—One Bin for All,” aims to eliminate source separation at the household level, achieving high waste diversion and recovery through technology and new process systems.  Residents will place everything in one bin, allowing access to all materials, recyclables, food waste, yard trimmings and eWaste thus maximizing reuse.

By working to develop the first total material resource recovery and renewable energy facility in the US, Houston has the opportunity to improve the health and quality of life of its citizens, divert more municipal solid waste than any other large City in the nation, improve air quality, save money, change the way citizens think about materials, reduce extraction of raw materials and influence other cities to embrace this transformation.

Houston will now compete against 19 other cities across the country for the $5 million grand prize as well as one of four additional prizes of $1 million each.

“I am ecstatic that we are a finalist in the Mayors Challenge,” said Mayor Annise Parker, “The Challenge tapped into Houston's innovative spirit, asking us to find new solutions to persistent problems. We are an entrepreneurial City—if you can dream it, you can achieve it here. We look forward to Ideas Camp to help turn our dream of full reuse and recycling and improved public health into reality.”

A team from Houston will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City in November during which city teams will work collaboratively with each other and experts to further refine their ideas. Coming out of Camp, the Houston team will have access to additional technical support to prepare their ideas for final submission. Winners will be announced in spring 2013, with a total of $9 million going to five cities to jumpstart implementation of their ideas.

“Congratulations to Mayor Parker and the City of Houston for becoming a Mayors Challenge finalist. The response to the Mayors Challenge was extraordinary: bold and innovative ideas were submitted from every corner of the country – but this idea was one that really stood out.  We look forward to welcoming the Houston team to Ideas Camp,” said James Anderson, who directs the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The 20 finalist ideas were rated on four key criteria: vision/creativity, ability to implement, potential for impact, and potential for replication. A specially-assembled selection committee, co-chaired by Shona Brown, Senior Vice President and head of Google.org, and Ron Daniel, Bloomberg Philanthropies board member and Former Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company where he is still active, helped select the finalist cities.

About the Mayors Challenge

Mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more were eligible to compete in the Mayors Challenge. 305 cities representing 45 states across the country submitted applications by September 14, 2012.

The Mayors Challenge is the latest initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project, which aims to spread proven and promising ideas among cities. Other Mayors Project investments include Cities of Service, Innovation Delivery Teams, and Financial Empowerment Centers.

To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit bloomberg.org/mayorschallenge.

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