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Environmentalists to City: Your Long-Term Trash Plan is a Burning Pile of Garbage

Does Dallas want to burn its trash? Environmentalists think so.
Does Dallas want to burn its trash? Environmentalists think so.
European Commission

On Tuesday, you saw a glimpse of Dallas' garbage future. The city's long-term solid waste plan had some relatively progressive ideas -- mandatory recycling, a plastic bag ban and "zero waste," for example -- but those won't even be up for actual discussion for another couple of decades. Once the ideas aren't so, you know, progressive.

Local environmentalists are greeting the proposal with "extreme disappointment," per a press release from the Dallas Sierra Club and Texas Campaign for the Environment. They think the city is kicking the can down the road.

"While this recycling plan sets strong long-term goals, in the short term it makes excuses for bad practices and uses big talk to cover up for little action," says Zac Trahan, TCE's local program director.

And then, per the release, there's this: "Among the chief concerns activists expressed is a provision to start burning Dallas' waste."

Come again?

According to Trahan, the "advanced waste diversion" very, very briefly touched upon in this week's City Council committee briefing, is a fancy way of saying "we're gonna light it on fire." I glanced back at the briefing material, which tells me advanced waste diversion includes "converting waste to electricity and/or other fuels." I've emailed city spokesman Frank Librio for clarification.

The environmentalists' overall message though is that the city needs to do something significant now, rather than simply saying it will in 2020 or 2025. Case in point: Under Dallas' plan, the city can put off requiring apartment complexes and offices to offer recycling for more than a decade when San Antonio, Austin and San Marcos have implemented the same proposal in the matter of a couple years.

"For the next 15 years we will hear politicians tell us how we cannot expect apartments to offer recycling, we cannot deal with single-use, disposable bags, we should hold off offering municipal composting or otherwise do anything over and above what we are already doing," Trahan said. "Future administrations will always have an excuse if they want to delay making critical waste reduction programs a reality."


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