After several years of talking about the generous Dallas bulk trash service, a City Council committee ordered changes on Monday.
Right now, residents can put almost anything on the curb for monthly bulk trash collection, and the city will pick it up. There is no limit on volume and no separation of recyclable yard waste.
"I drive through my neighborhoods, and it's just, it's always piled up. I don't want to live in a neighborhood like that. I've live there 32 years. I'm just fed up with that," said Councilman Rickey Callahan. "I'm really disappointed that we haven't been able to move this forward more quickly. I think we've been talking about it since 2014."
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The council's Quality of Life Committee instructed staff Monday to return within 60 days with a new program to separate yard waste and reduce monthly bulk trash collection. Details are still to be finalized, and officials know changes won't come easy.
"I think it is going to be a lot of education," Councilman Omar Narvaez said.
The Sanitation Department conducted a survey that found 73 percent of residents used the monthly bulk trash collection. But some of households used it more frequently and more heavily than others.
The committee briefing Monday said Dallas collects more than 1,400 pounds of bulk trash on average per household each year, the most of any large Texas city. Fort Worth collects fewer than 600 pounds per household. Houston collects about 800 pounds and Austin about 500 per household.
"It's different in different parts of the city," Councilman Adam McGough said. "It's hard to make a city-wide umbrella when there are differences."
Callahan said the liberal Dallas collection policy invites contractors to bring construction debris home from other locations for city collection.
"I don't think we need it every month," he said.
There was strong agreement among the committee members on separating yard waste for recycling collection. Compostable paper bags may be required instead of plastic bags for yard waste. Stronger enforcement of the new rules and existing rules will also be included in the new plan.
"We're already not supposed to put out construction materials. That is prohibited, and we have helped create our own problem by picking it up," Councilwoman Sandy Greyson said.
Reducing the volume of bulk trash collected in Dallas by diverting yard waste could add several years of capacity to the city owned landfill.
After so much time just talking trash, Dallas leaders Monday said they want 2018 to be the year for action on bulk trash.