Charting a path to Zero Waste for the Metroplex
Zero Waste is a strategy that includes market-based and policy objectives that aim to reduce wasted materials in our economy. In practice, Zero Waste plans take a holistic approach—minimizing inefficiencies in every step along the commodity chain—to reduce landfilling and incineration by up to 95%.
You can read more about Zero Waste here.
According to regional research, the DFW area recycles about 22% of the materials we use. This is significantly less than the national average of about 34%. While there are clearly many opportunities to increase regional recycling, we recognize the dedicated advocacy and hard-fought victories that have brought us this far.
We also recognize that we can’t “recycle our way out of the waste problem,” and that fundamental shifts to our economy and consumption models are needed for a truly Zero Waste vision to be realized. However, universal access to recycling and composting services along with strong Zero Waste education programs allow us to divert existing resources while challenging the old worldview of simply throwing things “away.”
Dallas and Arlington only started offering curbside recycling after tens of thousands of petitions were gathered by committed residents and community organizers in the early 1990s. More recently, recycling advocates successfully pressured Dallas city officials and won recycling for all apartments and condominiums.
These campaigns work. That’s why we need to build our movement and sustain pressure throughout the Metroplex to keep more valuable materials out of the dump and advocate for a more sustainable economy!
Universal Recycling Access
Multi-family buildings are home to a majority of DFW residents—and still in many cities, it’s up to each apartment building owner or condominium association to decide whether to provide recycling access for residents and tenants.
The majority of wasted resources that end up in local landfills come from commercial, multi-family, and construction and demolition sources. Therefore, cities should work to implement policies and programs that provide recycling to everyone, no matter where they live, work or play.
We also know that approximately 40% of landfilled resources are compostable materials–a large portion of which is wasted food from restaurants, grocery stores, and food distributors. We need to advocate for composting and food diversion programs that keep these valuable materials from the dump.
Some Texas cities such as San Antonio, San Marcos and Austin have already adopted commercial recycling policies. Here in North Texas, Fort Worth, Euless, Allen, Lewisville, Little Elm, Cedar Hill, and most recently Dallas have started comprehensive multi-family recycling programs. We can learn from these examples.
Cities that have worked to address food waste include the City of Austin and San Antonio, which have composting bin access in single-family neighborhoods. The City of Fort Worth recently initiated a community composting drop-off program for residents.
Through grassroots organizing, advocacy, and public opinion and policy research the DFW Zero Waste Alliance is working to create a more circular economy for North Texas. You can join our efforts here!