As Landfill Fills, Waco, TX Looks to Keep Recycling Rate on Upward Track
Posted on October 17th, 2018 by plasticycle
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October 17, 2018
Waste Advantage Magazine
The city of Waco has almost doubled its “diversion rate” over the last five years by promoting recycling more aggressively. The Waco City Council at a recent meeting discussed ways to step up that effort, just before signing off on the construction of the last cell at the Waco Regional Landfill.
Still, the short-term payoff of recycling in delaying the need for a new landfill is modest at best. Construction is to begin late this year on the Waco Regional Landfill’s final 12.6-acre cell, which will open in mid-2019. It will likely take less than six years to fill up, Public Works Director Chuck Dowdell estimated. A permit is in the works to open a new landfill near Axtell.
Even with the recent improvement in participation, the recycling program could only extend the life of the landfill by a few weeks. About 23,000 tons of recyclables were diverted from the landfill last year, for a diversion rate of about 8 percent. To put that in perspective, the proposed new landfill is projected to take in 305,000 tons of solid waste its first year, in 2024.
Still, city officials said they see value in reducing waste before the construction of the new landfill, which will be farther away and require more transportation.
At the council meeting two weeks ago, Dowdell suggested the city waive fees for commercial cardboard diversion, place additional recycle kiosks downtown, create marketing materials clarifying what may be recycled, divert downtown glass bottles and double the amount of district wide cleanup events. City officials have learned that awareness is key to improving recycling rates.
Participation soared after 2012, the same year the council announced that recycling would be picked up every other week, rather than on a weekly basis. “There were a lot of concerns that was somehow going to make recycling less,” Dowdell said. “I stood up and said I think it’s going to increase it. Sure enough, it did.”
Almost 20,000 tons were diverted in 2013, which represented a 7,000-ton increase from 2012. Last year, some 23,000 tons of disposals were diverted. Along the way, the city publicized the curbside program and offered more large blue carts.