Fort Worth

Fort Worth Landfill Filling Up Too Quickly

Population rise largely to blame, according to city. Throwing away recyclables is also a contributor.

The City of Fort Worth’s landfill is filling up far faster than previously thought, and part of the problem is that much of what is headed to the landfill as garbage should instead be recycled.

The landfill, in southeast Fort Worth, is supposed to have the capacity to be in operation for another 50 years. At the current rate of growth it is expected to only last half that time, according to Robert Smouse, Assistant Director of Code Compliance for the City of Fort Worth.

An estimated 240,000 20-pound bags of trash arrive at the landfill on a daily basis, according to Smouse.

The escalating rate of trash arriving at the landfill is largely due to the rapid population growth in Fort Worth.

The city, with an estimated population of 854,000 as of 2016, is the 16th largest city in the United States. It is the fastest-growing large city in America, having grown by approximately 50 percent over the last 20 years. By the year 2020 it is estimated Fort Worth will rank as the country’s 12th largest city.

Another cause for concern at the landfill is the amount of recyclable material that winds up in people’s garbage cans.

Fort Worth provides weekly curbside recycling pickup for residential residents. But too often people put items that are meant for recycling — plastic, glass, cardboard, etc. — into their garbage cans.

Perhaps the largest contributors to this problem are the city’s businesses, according to a representative of the City of Fort Worth. There is no ordinance in Fort Worth that requires businesses to participate in the recycling program. Businesses are not issued bins the same way that residential customers are so, instead, recyclable material often winds up in garbage dumpsters.

Recently, Fort Worth approved a new 20-year Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan that “will serve as a blueprint for how waste is handled and managed in Cowtown for the next 20 years,” according to a city statement.

Among the recommended goals established as part of the plan is an increased participation in the city’s recycling program. Currently the residential diversion rate — the amount of waste that is recycled as opposed to put into the garbage — is approximately 21 percent, according to the city.

The goal, by 2021, is to increase the residential recycling rate to 30 percent.

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