Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund released a detailed research report, the Dallas-Fort Worth State of the Region Recycling Report at Balcones Resources recycling facility on Tuesday. Recycling advocates, as well as business managers from two Texas-based recycling companies, Balcones and Recycle Revolution, highlighted opportunities for more local recycling programs.
The report found that nearly all cities in the Metroplex have some form of recycling for single-family residences. Often, this service includes a weekly curbside pickup from the city or a contracted recycler. These programs have widespread participation, but only cover a small fraction of the waste generated.
A majority of DFW residents live in multi-family complexes, and most cities and private contractors have done very little to offer comprehensive recycling services to those buildings. The story for commercial buildings and construction projects is very much the same.
Residents are asking the question, why doesn’t my workplace recycle? Why can’t I recycle in my apartment or at the park down the street? City officials and recycling companies are beginning to respond to these questions, because they know the vast majority of wasted materials come from these sources. We need to take a more holistic approach to resource management.
The “Dallas Zero Waste Plan,” a long term strategy for the city to reduce and recycle 85% of disposed materials by 2040. The plan is a step in the right direction, but so far, recycling has “flat-lined” in Dallas.
The failure to increase recycling rates since 2013 is largely attributable to a lack of imagination and interest from the Apartment Association and other stakeholders to expand access. Surprisingly, small suburban communities such as Little Elm and Euless – not to mention Fort Worth – have beaten Dallas to the punch in terms of providing recycling for people in apartments and condos.
Many Dallas apartment and condo residents are disappointed with the lack of recycling services provided by their building managers. Some, like retired green architect Diane Tasian, have taken matters into their own hands.
“When my husband and I moved into a condo it didn’t seem right that the building was only recycling paper,” Tasian said at the press conference, “I had taken the recycling service in our old neighborhood for granted. It took about 3 years of advocacy for the HOA to implement a full recycling program and now recycling is so much easier!”
Eddie Lott, the founder of Recycle Revolution in Dallas, spoke to the press about the partnership between his small company and Balcones Resources.
“People tend to think of businesses as cut-throat and highly competitive. While competition is important in the recycling business, so is partnership. Our warehouse in Dallas doesn’t have big sorting machines to separate mixed paper, plastics, and metals, so we work with Balcones to maximize the materials we keep out of landfills.”
Some businesses are looking no further than their local recycling facility and scrap yards to source materials for new products. “One of the most exciting things for me is when we’re approached by a local artist, carpenter, or entrepreneur who is looking to make something new of old crates, pallets, or electronic waste,” added Lott, “The fewer miles traveled the better. There’s no reason to ship recyclables overseas if people are repurposing them right here in Dallas.”
Recycle Revolution is working to encourage more bars and restaurants to recycle glass, a material that can be recycled and remanufactured within forty miles of their warehouse in Dallas. The family-owned recyclers also collect over 100,000 pounds of food scraps, which are turned into compost and resold within the Metroplex.
Balcones Resources started recycling in Austin in the early nineties, and they now have locations in Austin, Little Rock, and Dallas. According to their website, they service over “80% of the Class A buildings in downtown Dallas.”
“Our company was founded on principles of sustainable resource management. We do not own or operate a landfill, so we’re interested in keeping as many recyclables out of landfills as possible,” said Sam Vasquez, Dallas General Manager, “We are currently in the site evaluation phase for building a new MRF in the Dallas area that will allow us to manage significant growth in volume. With this new facility we will have more capabilities to support comprehensive programs for recycling in apartments and business throughout the Metroplex. Increasing the collection of recyclables means additional jobs at our facility and a longer life for landfills in the area.”
Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund is sharing the recycling report with local officials, recycling advocates and business leaders to help expand programs for responsible resource management in North Texas and beyond.
Some charts from the report are included below. A copy of the report is available on Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund’s website.