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

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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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson