Talking With the Trashman About Flowetry: Solid Waste Haulers Make New Pitch to City

Categories: City Hall
First, let me apologize for the headline -- I was listening to Billy Bragg and friends on the way into work this morning, and it could not be helped. Now, then. It's been a whole two days since last we discussed flow control -- I know, right? -- which, as you're well aware, involves the city forcing all of the city's solid-waste haulers to drop their garbage at the McCommas Bluff Landfill near I-45 and Simpson Stuart.

Far as Marys Suhm and Nix are concerned, the more trash Dallas collects and keeps, the more opportunity the city has to convert waste into methane, which it can use and sell. 'Tis "The Green Path From Trash to Treasure," said a May council briefing, worth a guesstimated a guesstimated "$13m to $15m annually." CIty Manager Suhm also told us last week that "this is about looking to the future, toward a good industry with good, high-paying jobs that will allow us to collaborate with universities for jobs of the future."

But following our chat with Nix, head of Sanitation Services, the National Solid Wastes Management Association sends word today that it's still quite opposed to the plan, so much so it's proposing alternatives that involve the city upping its franchise fees while also dedicating some of the tipping fees to "development in the area around the landfill."

The waste-haulers want to be able to dump their trash where they want -- in Dallas or one of the dozen other landfills in the region. And they've latched on to some southern sector residents' concerns -- this is just further proof that that part of town is Dallas's dumping ground -- to help make their case, insisting that McCommas has plenty of trash already to make the kind of treasure Suhm and Nix are talking about.

"This program does not require the city's Southern sector to become the entire community's dumping ground," says Tom Brown, president of the Texas chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association. "Flow control would prevent commercial waste in Dallas from being equitably distributed and disposed of near the areas where it is created and in the more cost efficient manner possible." Brown, and the NSWMA, make their case after the jump.
NSWMA Says City Can Help Southern Dallas Without Flow Control Proposal Would Fund Development

Dallas, Texas (Date) - The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) has proposed a plan for the City of Dallas to help Southern region development without the negative impact of flow control on the entire Dallas community.

Under the plan the city would take the following steps to provide a proven revenue stream with no investment from the city:

• Raise the franchise fee charged to commercial haulers
• Dedicate a portion of the McCommas Bluff tipping fee to development in the area around the landfill
• Dedicate a portion of any income from green projects to the development fund for the area

"This program does not require the city's Southern sector to become the entire community's dumping ground," said Tom Brown, president of the Texas Chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association. "Flow control would prevent commercial waste in Dallas from being equitably distributed and disposed of near the areas where it is created and in the more cost efficient manner possible."

The NSWMA proposal eliminates the numerous serious problems that would be created by flow control including increased traffic and local pollution around the landfill. "There is no green energy project anywhere in the U.S. that would require more material than is presently being delivered to McCommas Bluff so there is no need for flow control to create new green programs now or anytime in the foreseeable future," said Brown.

"Our members are the recognized leaders in the green energy field with operations throughout the world," said Brown. "We can be a resource for helping the community identify and implement the best practices and the latest technology that can generate additional income and jobs.

Under the city's flow control proposal, 900,000 tons of additional commercial waste would be delivered to Southern Dallas each year creating additional traffic as well as thousands of additional diesel trucks operating around the landfill. Flow control would negatively impact the entire city because it would add significantly to the cost of collecting the trucking commercial waste from the northern sections of Dallas to the Southern sector.

In a letter to City Manager Mary Suhm, the NSWMA warned that the financial projections created to justify flow control were materially inaccurate. "The city will not receive the income presented in the council briefings," said Brown. "Who will be accountable when those numbers don't add up?

"Our proposal helps bring Southern Dallas the help it needs, will help the community identify the best technology to create meaningful clean energy jobs and encourage competition to keep transportation and landfill prices reasonable for the whole community," said Brown. "The continued need to re-brief the city council is part of the mounting evidence that flow control is a poorly conceived and researched idea that needs to be taken off the table."

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Don't tell me y'all are falling for the NSWMA piece?  Let's see, first raise the franchise fee.  This means everyone's garbage pickup fees increase.  Second, dedicate a portion of the tipping fees, which means take more money from the sanitation budget and use it in the southern sector to attempt some economic development.  Third, dedicate a portion of any green projects to redevelopment.  Hey NSWMA, when are YOU going to kick in some money?  These guys are crying because they won't be able to steal the value of the recyclables in the trash they get PAID to collect.  CDW of Dallas, who is circulating the mailer about their wonderful Materials Recycling Facility?  Where do you think the money for all those recyclables goes?  Why don't y'all put up some money?  Yea, right!Flow control means millions for Dallas and the Southern Sector.  Money the big 3, Waste Management, Republic Services, and Progressive have been keeping for themselves.  Now that the writing is on the wall, they've fired up the PR machine to lie to you.Flow control means Dallas keeps the value from the recyclables, and a curbside program gets you about 5% of what can be collected with new processes, but you won't hear that from the NSWMA, or Tom Brown, I promise.

Its so sad
Its so sad

Read between the lines. They just want to turn all of South Dallas into a landfill. Much of it seems to fit the bill anyway. This is a nice manuever to get all those 'undesirable' people to move farther South into another city, thus eliminating the 'problems!"


How is this proposal even legal, what with home-rule cities and all that.  How can the city tell someone they can't dump in Garland, or what have you?  If we do this, let's put toll lanes in and around HP/UP--another illegal "flow control" idea that would bring in revenue to the city.


I think the city council understands the value of recycling. The staff understand the value of using recycling to sell a big increase in costs for local businesses and as a way to generate revenue for the city.  The good news is that the city can implement an aggressive single stream recycling program without flow control. Mary Nix visited one such facility recently in California. It might be a good addition to the city's green portfolio but it could not come close to handling a small portion of the material already going into the landfill. That is why Mary Nix and Mary Suhm keep talking about using the landfill as a vault. I guess they have never visited a landfill that was being excavated to move some of the material. The stench is overpowering and that is only the first of many other problems.    


Well at least finally they understand that trash is a resource.  When we started Dry Gulch Recycling Center over 20 years ago, the then director understood. Later directors not so much.  We could and should have been farther along with this concept. 


Wait until the council finds out that the city staff's numbers are wrong. Flow control will not produce the revenue promised. Someone had better be prepared to be accountable for those numbers.

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