On Monday, May 14th a committee of seven Dallas City Councilmembers voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that would require all apartments to begin recycling programs by January 1, 2020. The ordinance is scheduled for a full City Council vote next month, on June 13.

Recycling advocates applauded the committee members as they made the decision to take this important step toward universal recycling in Dallas.

The decision is monumental—more than half of Dallas residents live in multi-family buildings, and it’s past time that everyone had access to recycling programs. These city officials deserve our deep appreciation for their courage and leadership in moving our city closer to its goal of Zero Waste.

Along with the vote to approve the multi-family recycling ordinance, committee members also agreed on a plan to develop non-residential commercial recycling requirements. This would bring recycling services to office buildings, businesses and other commercial properties within the city. The current timeline to develop this recycling ordinance extends to early 2019 before the policy is drafted.

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Department Director of Sanitation Services Kelly High presents the multi-family recycling ordinance to councilmembers on May 14, 2018.

Councilmember Scott Griggs noted that the stakeholder engagement process worked especially well during the past three months in getting interested parties—including Texas Campaign for the Environment and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas—to agree on the ordinance language. Griggs suggested that the proposed timeline for commercial recycling requirements might move more quickly if stakeholders are identified and engaged with as soon as possible.

Texas Campaign for the Environment submitted policy recommendations that agree with Griggs’ suggestion and aim to draft the commercial ordinance by the end of 2018.

Finally, committee members considered a third solid waste and recycling issue: the residential bulk and brush collection program. Since 2016, the committee has considered changes that would enable city staff to recover more organic materials from the residential waste stream, like grass clippings and tree branches. The city currently allows residents to put all of these materials out for collection together every month. Most of the compostable material is simply landfilled since it’s too difficult to separate it from the bulk trash, which often includes bagged trash, sofas, washing machines, and so on. Now city officials are finally moving to require separate collection so all the brush can be mulched or composted instead—which will divert tens of thousands of tons of organic materials from the landfill every year. The full City Council will consider this proposal in June as well.

As zero waste advocates, we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this meeting. A big thanks is due to council members and staff who invested their time and support in these policies. Be sure and let them know—and stay tuned for the final decision next month!

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