In 2013, Dallas became just the second city in Texas to adopt a long-term recycling plan aimed at achieving “Zero Waste.” The plan outlines policies and programs in place to reduce, recover and recycle 85% of discards currently sent to landfills by 2040. Accomplishing this ambitious goal would conserve natural resources, create jobs and reduce energy consumption.
Like most cities in DFW, Dallas has concentrated its efforts on providing curbside recycling programs to its residents in single-family homes. While important, this is only the first step toward a truly sustainable solution for municipal solid waste.
Most waste in Dallas still makes its way to landfills and illegal dumpsites. In order to truly solve this problem, we must provide universal access to recycling everywhere people live, work and play. That means tackling some new and challenging problems in Dallas that have mostly gone unaddressed.
Universal Recycling Access
Currently in Dallas, it’s up to each apartment building owner or condominium association to decide whether to provide recycling access for residents and tenants. Dallas officials have conducted two surveys revealing that most are choosing not to recycle:
- Multi-family buildings reported a recycling rate of just 6% in 2014 and 7% in 2015;
- Dallas hotels reported recycling 10% of their waste in 2014 and 18% in 2015;
- Office buildings reported a 21% recycling rate in 2014 and 37% in 2015.
The Dallas Zero Waste Plan includes a goal to increase the commercial and multi-family recycling rates to 40% by 2020. Achieving such a rapid improvement will not be possible without a concerted civic engagement and public education effort. Our work is designed to help make this goal a reality.
Multi-family buildings, businesses and construction waste adds up to 83% of the trash that Dallas currently sends to landfills. Simply put, any efforts to reduce our overall waste and boost recycling must address these sources. We are committed to providing research, policy analysis and public education for a Universal Recycling Ordinance in Dallas and other DFW cities, and we need your help to do it.