Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
The Dallas trash to treasure plan created a stink at city hall, mostly from council members representing residents who live near the landfill and from trash haulers upset about the plan.
A plan that could double truck traffic at a Dallas landfill worries the leader of nearby Paul Quinn College.
Dallas leaders say that new technology could soon make garbage so valuable that they want a new ordinance that would forbid trash from leaving city limits.
"This philosophy is truly a paradigm shift in how we’re looking at trash," Sanitation Director Mary Nix said. "We're now seeing that trash has value. It's no longer a nuisance."
City garbage trucks currently haul waste to the McCommas Bluff Landfill near Interstate 45 and Interstate 20, but private haulers that collect from apartments and businesses can take their cargo to other landfills outside the city limits.
The city was fine with the arrangement because less trash would extend the life of the landfill.
But Dallas currently recovers methane for profit from the landfill, and the new technology could use garbage as fuel for even more efficient conversion to energy.
"Now that we have a better use for it, we need to capture that back and start using it for the city’s benefit," Nix said.
But Paul Quinn College vows to fight the "Trash to Treasure" program that is laid out in a briefing to the City Council scheduled for Wednesday.
"I'm incredibly offended by this," said Michael Sorrell, Paul Quinn president. "I think, yet again, it's another example, of the city not fully supporting this community."
The documents for Wednesday's briefing suggest an ordinance that would require all trash collected in Dallas to stay in Dallas and be delivered to the McCommas Bluff Landfill.
The city could earn an extra $18 million immediately in additional landfill fees from the private haulers, which is no small change as City Hall faces another budget crisis.
Paul Quinn College is pursuing a campus and neighborhood revitalization plan along nearby Simpson Stuart Road that involves removing old buildings and constructing new ones.
Sorrell said that doubling the trash truck traffic to the landfill would not help the college.
"No one wants to live close to a great big garbage dump," he said. "If they did, all the folks that are talking about doing it would put it in their neighborhood."
Nix said the extra traffic would be trucks that are already in the city now.
"The sad part is that they're leaving our city limits and having to go to landfills farther away when we have a perfectly good site right here," she said.
Wednesday’s briefing quotes the CEO of trash-hauling firm Waste Management as saying new technology could one day make trash so valuable that haulers would buy it from customers instead of customers paying haulers to take it away.
Dallas officials hope to adopt their new ordinance by next year.