Dallas apartment complexes with eight or more units will have to provide recycling for their residents by 2020.
The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the new recycling mandate, which is meant to help push Dallas toward its “zero-waste” goals and divert some materials from landfills. Council member Sandy Greyson said the new ordinance “is really going to move the needle considerably.”
The council was due to consider recycling mandates next year, according to its 2013 Zero Waste Plan. But the push came a year early after council members were told that voluntary compliance hadn’t resulted in much volunteering. Less than quarter of apartment complexes were offering recycling, and progress wasn’t fast enough, officials said.
The ordinance requires apartment complexes to provide capacity for 11 gallons of recycling a week for each unit. The method — dumpsters, roll carts, bins and compactors — is flexible. The minimum parking requirements can be reduced if the complexes need space to put the containers. Properties will have to submit an annual plan to the city’s Code Compliance Department.
Council member Lee Kleinman voted in favor of the ordinance but expressed reservations about it. He feared apartments would pass on the costs to residents and drive up the costs of housing.
“It’s just always very frustrating when you see the government mandate things for private businesses,” he said.
But other council members were all-in on the plan.
“We just can’t continue to fill our landfill up,” said Rickey Callahan, who represents Pleasant Grove.
Several praised the Texas Campaign for the Environment and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas for their work on the ordinance.
Kathy Carlton, the government affairs director for the association, said the group was ready to embrace recycling.
“We are never in favor of a mandatory program,” she said. “That said, I knew that train was coming down the tracks.”
Carlton said she foresees some trouble with implementation for some properties, especially low-income ones, and hopes the city gives those apartments some leeway.
Corey Troiani, the Dallas-area program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment, said public education will be key.
But he was thrilled with the vote and said the new rules will mean Dallas has “the most robust apartment recycling ordinance in the state of Texas.”
The council, which is also grappling with likely changes to brush-and-bulk-trash collection, will probably now turn its attention to recycling requirements for commercial uses.