A mandatory apartment recycling ordinance ould be the law in Dallas within three months after orders from a Dallas City Council committee Monday. Commercial buildings could also be added to the waste recycling program this year.
"It's time to really get started in a very aggressive way to get something done," said Councilman Rickey Callahan.
Currently, Dallas only requires recycling to be available for single-family homes with service the city provides. But more than half the city's residents live in multi-family rental buildings. A few years ago the city hoped that landlords would offer recycling on their own, but less than 25-percent of the 2,000 or so multi-family property owners have done so, according to city officials.
"Sooner than later I'd like to bring this back with some kind of ordinance," said Councilwoman Jennifer Gates. "I think at this point, just waiting for voluntary compliance, we've done that long enough and we can move forward."
Other large Texas cities, including Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin, have required multi-family and commercial waste recycling for years.
"Gosh, I hate being behind Austin on everything," said Councilman Mark Clayton. "We say we can't do it, and then they do and they're still thriving."
Landlords have said it requires extra space on properties that were not designed for recycling. The extra collection will add expense for property owners, and tenants must be educated.
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"We are ready to join with the city, and we know this is an important issue. Our biggest concern is how do we get over the details," said Kathy Carlton, with the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas. "You have a lot of residents that aren't really into recycling and so they don't care very much about how they sort their materials."
Sanitation Director Kelly High said Monday that the city's McCommas Bluff Landfill near Interstates 20 and 45 may have only 35 years of space left. The city of Dallas' long-term goal is "Zero Waste" to the landfill.
"This is not crazy. It has been done in other places. The city of Los Angeles is close to 80 percent diversion," Councilman Philip Kingston said.
Council members Monday said they want to move forward with apartment recycling first but also want to include recycling for commercial buildings this year.
"And I think what we saw today was a major victory for the entire city of Dallas, for the citizens, who want to be better stewards of the environment," said Corey Troiani, with Texas Campaign for the Environment.