City Council Dismisses Concerns About Burning Garbage, Adopts Long-Term Plan

Categories: City Hall

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The city of Dallas wants to see a lot less of this and a lot more recycling in the future.
Many people were not happy when the city unveiled its long-term solid waste management plan. It's goal of achieving zero waste by 2040 was admirable enough, but the plan pushed consideration of such measures as a plastic bag ban, mandatory recycling and increased composting efforts out a decade or more. Worrying, too, were references to the possibility of incinerating garbage. To top it off, several members of the advisory board that supposedly helped draft the plan, which will guide Dallas' garbage policy for the next 50 years, said they had little or no input.

Councilwoman Linda Koop, who chairs the council's transportation and environment committee and has apparently got an earful about the plan, offered a pair of amendments. First, she stripped the target dates for various initiatives proposals, so the city won't have to wait until 2025 to put in place mandatory recycling. She also added a provision calling for the City Council to adopt specific solid waste proposals that will fill flesh out the vagaries of the long-term plan.

"What we are passing here today is a strategic plan," Mayor Mike Rawlings offered. "it is not a tactical plan. Sometime in the press people use the word 'plan' and it has a lot of different implications."

Robin Schneider, with the Texas Campaign for the Environment, said Koop's amendments assuaged concerns that the solid waste plan would give the city carte blanche to indefinitely postpone recycling initiatives.

"The other thing we have objection to is the repeated references to incineration," she said. "You can only burn things once. It's not renewable. It's not green."

Koop responded that the various methods of combustion included in the proposal are merely possibilities. Technology may open up other options, or the City Council may simply opt not to pursue the burning of trash in any form.

Councilwoman Sandy Greyson acknowledged that there should have been more public input, but that "we've learned our lesson." Mayor Pro-Tem Tennell Atkins said it was good that the city was thinking so progressively: "We're not in the Flintstones now, we're in the Jetsons."

And then there was Dwaine Caraway: "I was over in District 8 and was over by Mr. Atkins' house, and he had a big can in his yard and was burning trash at his house." He thanked Koop for making it so that his fellow councilman would no longer need a burn can.

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This is all wrong on so many levels.  First, the plan is a framework within which to build the measures to get to Zero Waste.  Do you look around anywhere other than your back yard to see how this is being done elsewhere? My God, even Fort Worth has new mandates for multi-family recycling to be done.  Second, conversion does not automatically mean incineration.  They currently allow the conversion of organics to methane and pipe it out of McCommas as natural gas.  Look at the last 2 years worth of references to conversion methodologies in Dallas and you will not find incineration being mentioned. Incineration is not the answer and everyone in the business knows it, even the largest players.   Watch out for the TX Campaign too.  They don't want to hinder trash going into landfills.  In fact, I have heard they take money from a big landfill owner in Austin to help him keep trash coming to his landfill.  An enviro group?  Well, I never.


Bad news Councilman Caraway. Your city staff's idea of garbage disposal looks a lot like an over-sized burn can.


Although Linda Koop said that the report was filled with techno talk that she may have overlooked when it came to burning garbage, she knew exactly what she was doing. If she felt uncomfortable about taking a vote on a report that nobody knew anything about, she could have raised a red flag. She didn't. She's just pissed that it was held up. Her plan failed. What was passed today means nothing. It's all smoke and mirrors. They didn't do shit. And City Hall is full of it too. And then they have the nerve to try and weasel out of going to ethics class.

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