DFW cities to encourage commercial recycling
By Julie Thibodeaux
While residential curbside recycling programs have become standard for metropolitan areas across the U.S., now cities, including some in North Texas, want local businesses to do their part.
Increasingly, public policy is being used to mandate compliance. While Seattle offers recycling pickup for small businesses, it has banned cardboard, paper and yard waste from all commercial garbage. Beginning in October, the city of Austin will phase in its Universal Recycling Ordinance, which requires all businesses and commercial properties to recycle by the end of 2015, starting with large businesses and apartment complexes. Last month, a landmark California law went into effect mandating recycling for businesses and public entities statewide that generate 4 cubic yards or more of waste per week as well as multi-family dwellings of five or more units. (Austin Recycling Container - photo wildflower.com)
Meanwhile, many Metroplex cities are looking for ways to encourage businesses to divert recyclables from the waste stream voluntarily to conserve precious landfill space. Sheila Overton, waste diversion manager for the city of Dallas, said while she does not know the number of businesses currently recycling, she’s observed a new mindset. “A lot of businesses are interested in recycling, they’re just not sure how to do it and where to turn,” said Overton. Although Dallas, which employs a city crew to collect recycling, is not ready to add curbside pickup for all commercial properties yet, the city provides recycling drop-off locations at more than 130 sites, which apartment dwellers and businesses can use. (Dallas Recycle container - photo City of Dallas)
There are commercial recycling companies that already service apartments and commercial buildings. Among these are Recycle Revolution and Green Dream Company. See the Green Source DFW articles Recycle Revolution - Comprehensive Recycling for Business and Green Dream Company Helps DFW Communities Recycle.
Dallas has also launched a pilot program, funded by a North Central Texas Council of Governments grant, offering weekly recycling pick up at two multi-use developments. In November, Cityville, an Oak Lawn area development that features 300 upscale residential units, along with restaurants and retail, was the first to adopt the program. According to Rosanne McAdam, senior vice president of operations for Inland American Communities and supervisor for the Cityville property, their tenants, whose average age is 25-32, have embraced the program. With bins set out on every level of the parking garage and dumpsters provided for businesses, the development has gone from once a week pickup to twice a week and is considering increasing frequency. (Cityville Oak Park - Photo : Inland American Communities)
McAdam said her company is currently building another multi-use development near the Greenville Avenue area to open in January. It is designed to incorporate recycling for tenants and will join the Dallas recycling program. Al Scheer, design director for the Cityville properties, said the recycling program fits well with their youthful demographic. He applauds the city’s proactive approach. “Dallas is making great efforts,” he said.
Sarah Lopez, a Dallas waste diversion outreach specialist, said they plan to have 10 mixed-used developments participating in the commercial recycling program by the end of next year. They hope these developments will serve as models for other businesses. “Our ultimate goal is to have businesses all around the city of Dallas recycling,” she said.
Meanwhile, across the Metroplex, the city of Fort Worth has also taken steps to ramp up recycling at area businesses. Debbie Branch, commercial recycling coordinator for the city of Fort Worth, said she fields about three phone calls a week from businesses wanting to recycle. While the city does not offer commercial recycling pickup, she helps them assess their recycling needs and connects them with private contractors.
“The large businesses already get it,” said Branch, saying that many large manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Frito Lay have recycling programs in place. Branch said that businesses should start by contacting their waste hauler. Most will also take recyclables. She said many recycling contractors are flexible and will work with small businesses or those with unique needs.
While Branch acknowledged there are fees for recycling pickup, she said it’s typically cheaper than having waste hauled to the landfill. “If you have a dumpster that’s pulled twice a week, maybe you can reduce that frequency by recycling,” she said.
Tim Yatko, commercial sustainability coordinator for the city of Arlington, said he promotes commercial recycling by talking to business owners about long-term cost savings and showcases those who’ve pledged to recycle on the city’s website. As for what keeps businesses from recycling, he said that some property owners don’t want to pay for installing a new dumpster, which may require extending a privacy fence, or because they don’t want to take up valuable parking space. He believes developers should be required to include space for recycling dumpsters in their plans.
Yatko says while many businesses are still resistant to recycling, it’s inevitable with landfill space filling up. Eventually, cities will likely have to haul their trash farther, which will cost more, providing more incentive for cities to enforce recycling. “A lot of people do it because it’s the right thing to do ” he said. “It takes a culture change.”
On the Web:
To see a list of drop off sites for recyclables in Dallas, see http://www.dallascityhall.com/sanitation/dropoff_locations.html.
For information on commercial recycling in Arlington, see http://www.arlingtontx.gov/greenteam/index.html
For information on commercial recycling in Fort Worth, see http://fortworthtexas.gov/solidwaste/commercial/
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Julie Thibodeaux is a Fort Worth-based writer covering environmental issues, green topics and sustainable living. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.