UPDATED, June 13, 2018: The Dallas City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will require all multi-unit residential buildings with eight or more units to provide recycling service by January 2020, as reported by Dallas News.
Property owners will be required to provide at least 11 gallons of capacity per unit, with no specified type of containers, and submit annual compliance reports to the city. Permitted service providers will also have to submit annual reports that "identify recycling facilities utilized during the prior year, tonnage delivered to recycling facilities from Dallas properties, number of properties served and total recycling capacity, and information on contamination percentages."
Leading up to 2020, all involved are expected to begin working on amending or signing contracts, procuring the necessary equipment and developing educational materials. Next, the council plans to look at commercial recycling regulation.
- The Dallas City Council's Quality of Life, Arts & Culture Committee unanimously approved a plan to begin drafting recycling requirements for multi-unit residential buildings, as reported by Dallas News. The ordinance is expected to be complete within the next three months, with the potential for other commercial recycling requirements to come.
- More than half of the city's population lives in multi-unit buildings, but fewer than a quarter of them have access to recycling options. The Apartment Association of Greater Dallas said that costs and logistics were top factors, and raised concerns about a mandate.
- In a presentation from Dallas Sanitation Services (DSS), the city outlined potential considerations such as limiting requirements to commonly recycled items and phasing in the start date based on building size. More than 90% of the city's apartment complexes have at least 50 units.
The 2013 Dallas "zero waste" plan called for action on multi-family and commercial recycling in 2019. So in that sense, the city is ahead of schedule. DSS has already been working with buildings to implement voluntary programs, but the agency's zero waste program manager recognized progress is falling below expectations and more could be done. Surveys show that the city's hotels and commercial buildings may be farther ahead in terms of access.
Dallas wouldn't be the first city in Texas to do this, and has plenty of local examples for guidance. Austin, San Antonio and Fort Worth all have multi-unit recycling requirements with varying details, and some access to municipal collection for smaller buildings. Fort Worth's recently approved 20-year solid waste management plan also included ideas for improving service and participation at multi-unit residential buildings.
Because multi-unit residential recycling often falls under the commercial sector, it's less apt to be covered by municipal mandates, and even when it is, cities have found it difficult to encourage proper participation within large buildings. The topic remains a common, yet difficult, priority around the country. In Philadelphia, the focus has been on getting accurate data, in Chicago the issue is enforcement and in some Colorado cities, the issue is access. In New York, where multi-unit buildings fall under municipal service but have had mixed results, the city has offered up to $20,000 in grant funding for new ideas at a public housing complex.