Plastic Bag Bans and Mandatory Recycling: A Glimpse into Dallas' Trash Future

Categories: The Environment

Thumbnail image for mccommasbluff.jpg
Dallas dumps 2.2 million tons of garbage in the McCommas Bluff Landfill each year. It wants that number to be much, much lower.
Best case scenario: The world's largest retailer builds a spaceship that allows humanity to flee a trash-choked planet and spend several centuries growing ever fatter and lazier on an interstellar cruise, unwitting captives to a self-aware computer, until an oddly adorable trash-compacting robot unshackles us from our digital overlord and awakens us to a newfound respect for the natural environment.

That sequence of events is rather simple, in theory, to avoid. The world just needs throw less shit away. But as the past few decades of conservation efforts have proven, that's easier said than done.

Dallas alone generates 2.2 million tons of garbage each year, everything from fast food wrappers to grass clippings to old couches to batteries. All of that winds up in the landfill. The city, though, is in the midst of developing a long-term solid waste management plan aimed at significantly reducing the amount of stuff that ends up in the trash.

The plan sets a goal of "zero waste" by 2040, which isn't actually zero but a reduction of 80 to 90 percent from current levels. In the near-term, the focus is on voluntary measures, like limiting the use Styrofoam and plastic bags and encouraging composting. Apartment complexes and businesses would also be required to offer recycling, which seems like a no-brainer seeing as they generate about three-quarters of the city's waste.

Longer term, 10 to 15 years out, the plan calls for more drastic steps, like the consideration of a mandatory recycling ordinance, prohibition on the disposal of things like yard waste, and a plastic bag ban.

The city says 85 percent of the stuff that ends up in the landfill is reusable, so the "zero waste" goal may not be as far-fetched as it seems on its face. They're certainly welcome to implement the mandatory apartment recycling whenever. In the meantime, if you live in the Lakewood/Hollywood Heights and find a lot of empty IPA bottles in your big blue bin, that's just me saving the environment, guerilla-style.


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11 comments
alacrityfitzhugh2
alacrityfitzhugh2

Most large cities sell the unsorted recyclables for an average of 50 dollars per ton (which doesn't sound like much) but Dallas is collecting around 50,000 tons per year. You don't need a calculator to figure out 50,000 times 50 dollars is a lot. Yet Dallas pays a company to haul it away (?).

Something is strange here.

hugodahl
hugodahl

It probably wouldn't hurt if whoever is in charge of the blue recycling bins in Dallas wasn't going through them and tossing out what they determine, somehow, shouldn't be recycled, even though it's given the thumbs up on the city's site. Nearly enough to make me revert to tossing everything in the trash rather than end up with recyclable bits all over my yard because of some pissy employee.

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

What an insane load of garbage!  The solid waste management plan, that is.  We're getting absolutely hosed on our recycling program except for metals, and one thing we have more of than most cities is landfill space.  Ban plastic bags?  By any reasonable measure, they're better for the environment than paper bags.  They cause less pollution than paper and are easier to recycle or dispose of in a landfill.

 

Does no one bother to do any research any more?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

No more plastic grocery bags?

 

Whatever shall we adorn our roadside vegetation with?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Grass clippings aren't there for long.  Even though the city banned them years ago, they add mulch to the landfill, but grass clippings are beyond the pale?  Grass clippings and organic waste create methane, which the city is trying to harvest. 

 

I support mulching lawns over clippings, but I resent capricious laws and inclusion of elements that aren't a problem.  The only problem with grass clipping making it to the landfill, is the gasoline wasted to transport them. 

 

All that said, good to see another IPA lover. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @jerikjonsson Yet Whole Foods only offers paper.  I agree with you, by weight, plastic if far more efficient.  We save all ours, save the icky ones and reuse them.  I'm with you on this. 

DMZ3
DMZ3

 @jerikjonsson That's why you pass a ban on both plastic and paper bags, like Austin did this year.

 

Mwa ha.

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

 @scottindallas cheaper and less harmful to manufacture as well.  And they take up less space in the landfill and decompose at exactly the same rate as paper - which is to say a rate of zero.  Hating plastic bags is a sign of utter ignorance.

jerikjonsson
jerikjonsson

 @markzero OK let's ban Saran Wrap while we're at it.  That's a trash handling problem not a plastic bag problem.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

 @markzero That's exactly what I do too.  Even though I'm still using plastic bags, I'm at least recycling them for a second use.  I recycle my newspaper and junk mail and fill the paper bags on hand.

markzero
markzero

 @jerikjonsson Plastic bags can become airborne, making litter spread. Also, animals that ingest bits of plastic can die. Paper bags you can probably mulch.

As a practical matter, though, I usually end up with plastic bags anyway, which I use for bathroom bin liners. Paper bags I use for recycle & shred bags.

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