Waste Control Ordinance Stalls in Dallas, But City Pushes Forward Despite Opposition
By Joe Gaines
The City of Dallas doesn't appear to be giving up on an ordinance that would funnel all solid waste collected in the city to its landfill on its southern end.
In January, a federal court temporarily stopped the waste flow control ordinance from going into effect after the National Solid Wastes Management Association on behalf of private haulers sued.
The NSWMA argued the ordinance violated franchise agreements the city has with private haulers that allow them to take waste to any state-approved landfill. The city argued that under the law it had the obligation and authority to regulate waste collection within its city limits.
The city lost and a few months after the decision, the NSWMA asked the judge to make the injunction permanent.
Earlier this month, the city filed an appeal and asked the court not to make the injunction permanent.
Residential waste in Dallas is currently taken to the city's McCommas Bluff Landfill on its southern side, but business and multi-family complexes may use private haulers who may take the waste to landfills in nearby communities.
The ordinance would have required private haulers to take that waste to the city's landfill or transfer stations elsewhere in the city.
Private haulers argued the ordinance would increase their costs as much as 20 percent and the new law was little more than a move by the city to monopolize trash collection.
The city argued that by sending all waste to its landfill, it would help make a public-private partnership plan for a planned resource recovery center at the landfill profitable and would generate $13 to $18 million for city coffers.
Despite the unknown outcome of the ordinance, city plans show it will continue with the recovery center at the landfill, with bidding for the facility expected as early as the fall.
The recovery center would separate recyclable materials as well as organic materials from waste. Organic materials could then be used to create methane gas. The gas could then be sold as fuel or used onsite to enhance the value of recyclable materials.
Some residents near the landfill protested the ordinance, saying the city was again abusing it's southern half by literally treating it as dumping ground. The plan would add 700,000 to 900,000 tons of extra waste to the landfill, according to city estimates. Nearby residents marched saying they wanted grocery stores, not garbage.
To appease residents, the city designated a portion of the profits, as much as a $1 million a year, to a fund to help redevelop the area. It was enough for some council members representing the city's south side to sign on.
Joe Gaines is an Arlington-based freelance writer covering environmental policy. He has previously been a writer, copy editor and designer for publications in Texas, Florida, Missouri and Georgia.