DALLAS, Texas — While most individual households in major Texas cities now have recycling opportunities, the so-called "right to recycle" is still out of reach for many. Some communities are responding by requiring apartment buildings, businesses and public institutions to provide recycling services. The Texas Campaign for the Environment's Dallas/Fort Worth program director, Zac Trahan, says it's these kinds of places that are producing the majority of garbage destined for landfills.
"So when you start giving everyone the right to recycle everywhere, you are tackling the biggest source of our waste."
He's currently pressing Dallas officials to follow the lead of cities such as San Antonio, San Marcos and Austin, all of which require recycling plans for multi-family dwellings. Since apartments and businesses typically have to arrange for their own waste services, owners can be resistant to new recycling requirements. That's why Trahan says it's important to give them a seat at the table as communities draw up right-to-recycle ordinances.
Austin's universal recycling plan was partially implemented in October, starting with larger apartments and commercial properties. Smaller businesses will be phased in over the next few years. Aiden Cohen, a program manager with Austin Resource Recovery, says that while owners often have to spend more when they start recycling, it can save money in the long run if it's done right.
"As we recycle more throughout the community, the price per unit or per pickup goes down. And you throw less to the landfill, so you can decrease and save costs on the landfill portion of it."
San Antonio's new ordinance currently covers multi-family dwellings, not commercial sites. But the Solid Waste Management Department's Tiffany Edmonds says the city will be looking to add businesses within the next couple of years. The eventual goal, she says, is "zero waste" - that is, nothing enters the waste stream if it doesn't have to. She says the way to get there is for the city to give everyone a chance to participate in the effort.