Dallas Trash Plan Earns Praise and Concerns

Environmentalists are praising a new Dallas trash plan to be considered by the City Council Wednesday but some people who've worked on it still have concerns.

A City Council committee endorsed the plan Monday.

It includes a goal of "zero waste" in Dallas by expanding recycling goals to businesses and rental homes that are not included in current city recycling programs.

Dallas only provides curbside recycling collection to single family homes and a few businesses now.

"Dallas is only the second city in all of Texas to pass a zero waste plan for the long term and that’s great, that’s huge. That shows real environmental leadership on city leaders," said Zac Trahan with Texas Campaign for the Environment.

"The bad news is it isn’t nearly as strong as it should be," Trahan said.

Recycling would be voluntary for rental homes and businesses until 2019 instead of 2021 as in previous versions of the plan.

But even after 2019, expanded recycling could remain voluntary.

Kathy Carlton with the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas said there are many complications for recycling at apartment complexes and it should always be voluntary.

She said some complexes have no room to store recycled materials or place containers for residents.

"We are hoping to work with the city in a way that we can develop a program that will accommodate the needs of individual properties," she said.

Carlton said around 50 percent of Dallas residents live in rental homes that could be subject to the new rules.

"We try to avoid anything that’s a one size fits all type of mandatory program," she said.

Eddie Lott with a Dallas company called Recycling Revolution said his firm provides services to all sorts of apartment complexes.

His programs include large containers or blue bag recycling where residents sort materials and leave the bags for pick up.

"We have plenty of options," Lott said. "We're talking a couple of dollars a month per tenant to be able to offer recycling to the entire complex. It's very affordable and it’s very doable."

Excluded from the current Solid Waste Plan is a proposed Dallas ban on plastic grocery bags like some other cities around the country have adopted.

Plastic grocery bag litter is common in Dallas and a ban was included in earlier versions of the Solid Waste Plan, but Dallas officials now intend to consider that issue separately as a possible environmental protection law.

"It's better to have it separate from the solid waste management plan," Trahan said.

Also excluded is a so called Flow Control plan that was to require all garbage generated in Dallas to be taken to the city's McCommas Bluff Landfill where a high-tech waste to energy plant was proposed.

Private haulers are allowed to take commercial garbage to landfills outside Dallas now and a judge granted the haulers an injunction to block Flow Control.

The city is appealing the Flow Control injunction in court.

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