Big Waste in the Big D

Texas is a big state. If you drive 500 miles in any direction from most places mid-state, you still will be in Texas. By comparison, if you drive 500 miles north of Washington, D.C., you'll be in Canada.

Texas covers 262,000 square miles, and according to 1990 U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, D.C., statistics, it has a population of 17 million. Like Texas, Dallas, the site of WasteExpo '99, is both big and wide. With a population of 1,030,150, it is the second largest city in the state (after Houston) and the eighth largest in the world. It covers 378 square miles and ranks as the least densely populated major metropolitan area in the world.

Adding to its sprawl, Dallas is part of the Dallas/Fort Worth Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area. Known as the Metroplex, this area covers Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and 80 other communities.

Thus, it stands to reason that solid waste management in the Dallas area also is big. For example, Texas bills by the cubic yard compared to most states, which bill by ton.

There are 24 landfills within 20 miles of the Dallas/Fort Worth area [See "Dallas Area Landfills" on right]. The city of Dallas owns and operates one landfill, McCommas Bluff, and three transfer stations, Fair Oaks, Buchman and Oak Cliff. The city's residential collection is handled by the public sector, while some communities in the Metroplex have private contracts. In Dallas, residents use blue bags for recyclables, but the city is planning to automate its collection.

Waste Management Inc. (WMI), Houston, has a large market share, estimated at more than 60 percent for overall collections. WMI has three landfills, called regional disposal facilities, within 20 miles of Dallas/Fort Worth - Westside accepts 1,833 tons per day (tpd), Ellis County/Skyline 520 tpd and Trinity Valley 2,300 tpd.

Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), Houston, once touted its "total" waste management operations in Dallas. In March 1999, BFI and Allied Waste Industries, Scottsdale, Ariz., announced their merger, pending regulatory approval, which is anticipated to take several months.

BFI spokesperson Dorothy Beeler says that when the deal is complete, the merged company will operate under the Allied name with its corporate office in Scottsdale. But little change is anticipated in BFI's routes and operations because there is little overlap between the two companies, she says.

In Dallas, BFI had provided management in solid, medical and industrial waste, and had offered sweeping services and portable toilets. In addition, BFI had owned a Type 4 landfill, allowing the company to dispose of its construction and demolition waste. BFI also owned a Subtitle D landfill in Itasca, 60 miles south of the Metroplex. This landfill accepts 330 tpd.

Other solid waste management companies in the Dallas area include J.C. Duncan, Arlington, which owns the municipal contract for Arlington; and Allied, which owns and operates three landfills - 1,262 tpd Turkey Creek, 480 tpd Wilmer and 367 tpd Mesquite. The company will consolidate in markets where it and BFI overlap, according to Allied.

Dallas has a glut of disposal space, with some estimating a landfill capacity of about 50 years. According to Raj Gunner, an engineer with Dallas' sanitation division, the city's McCommas Bluff landfill has an expected life of 61 years.

Fort Worth, on the other hand, is reported to have limited landfill space, and there is talk of bringing Fort Worth waste into the Dallas market.

Other cities, such as Arlington and Grand Prairie reportedly are less interested in importing waste, although they have the space for it.

"These cities are not cash-strapped and are very well-run," says Don Smith, BFI's vice president of marketing and sales for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area. "They could get cash for taking in the trash, but they are not openly soliciting for waste. Instead, they are making decisions to preserve their long-term autonomy."

Commercial contracts also seem to balance customer service, cost-effectiveness and innovation.

To give readers a sense of the scope of solid waste management in the Dallas Metroplex area, Waste Age profiled five of the area's largest waste generators.

Texas Instruments Dallas

Contact: Bruce Willette, facilities manager, Texas Instruments (TI), Spring Creek, Texas.

Waste Hauler: WMI and some municipal haulers.

Trash Pickups: TI sent 549,000 pounds of solid waste to the landfill in January 1999 in 12 sites, including Houston; Sherman, Texas; Massachusetts; Kentucky; and eight in Dallas. This waste was landfilled.

Recyclables: In January 1999, 2,064,000 pounds of recyclable material were collected in the 12 sites, allowing TI to recycle 79 percent of its total solid waste. Recyclables include corrugated cardboard, paper, metals and plastics.

Recycling Philosophy: "Our philosophy is to reuse or recycle all materials," Willette says. "Our target for 1998 was to recycle 75 percent, and we surpassed that in January. WMI and some of our suppliers have worked with us to deliver material that can be recycled."

For example, wood pallets in good shape are reused at another location. Otherwise, they are repaired for a cost or mulched. "Based on our current record, we have raised our target for recycling and reuse from 75 percent to 80 percent," Willette says.

Dallas Independent School District

Contact: Guy Knoll, operations manager.

Waste Hauler: WMI. "We only use one hauler," Knoll says. "Periodically, we're required by law to bid out, which we currently are doing." The bid should be awarded by the June WasteExpo show.

Trash Pickups: The school district has 288 8-cubic-yard containers and 1,069 weekly pickups. Volume doubles at the beginning and end of the school year, and increases by one third in December and February due to holiday and Valentine's Day parties.

Recyclables: There are 518 pickups per week of the district's three 4-yard containers and 262 8-yard containers. Cardboard is the bulk of the recyclables, followed by mixed paper and steel cans from the school cafeteria.

Recycling Philosophy: "Just pick it up for us," Knoll says. Haulers are asked to share any revenues from recyclables. "But we're not a commodity exchange," he adds. "Waste Management can take it and broker it for us."

The City of Plano, Texas Contact: BFI's Don Smith.

Waste Hauler: The public sector collects trash, and BFI has been handling commercial and apartment complex pickups.

Trash Pickups: Plano is north of Dallas and has 57,000 homes and 180,000 residents. Residents receive a 95-gallon refuse cart and either an 18-gallon recycling collection tote or a 68-gallon recycling cart.

Residential pickup is by side loader.

Recyclables: Recyclables collection is weekly on the same day as trash pickup. "Recycling in Plano is part of our franchise with the city," Smith says. All recyclables are brought to BFI's recyclery in east Plano. "We have a source separator to recover commodities, primarily cardboard," Smith says

Dillard's Fort Worth

Contact: Steve Frazee, director of building services

Waste Hauler: J.C. Duncan, Arlington.

Trash Pickups: The department store has one 40-yard container for standard, wet landfill waste, which is picked up three times per week.

Recyclables: "All our cardboard is recycled," Frazee says. "We produce 12,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds per day of shredded cardboard that Duncan hauls three times daily. It is processed in a shredder compactor."

Dillard's also has a 45-yard container that is picked up twice a week.

"In addition, here at the distribution center, we get two-and-a half semite loads a day of 1,500-pound bales that we receive on our trailers from our 90 different sites," Frazee says. "These are transported on a national contract that is renewed on a merit basis."

Recycling Philosophy: "We want to get the best service at the best price but it's also the attitude of the hauler that counts," he says. "If our system is down 15 minutes, it really affects us because we have 1,500 people here opening up and throwing away boxes. We could have a couple of miles of material waiting for the hauler to finish."

Miller Brewing Company Fort Worth

Contact: Paul Lee, buyer/purchasing.

Waste Hauler: WMI, except hazardous waste.

Trash Pickups: "We have four 40-cubic-yard compactors on the property in different locations, plus several portable, closed-in containers," Lee says. "The main compactor is picked up five times per week."

Recyclables: WMI markets and recycles Miller Brewing's glass. "For other commodities, such as cardboard, mixed office paper, plastic and shrink wrap, we work with suppliers and brokers," Lee says.

WMI also picks up compostable materials. WMI provides open-top containers for this.

Recycling Philosophy: "Our goal simply is to recycle everything we can and eliminate trips to the landfill," Lee says. "Plastic bottles are a new concept for us, and we're recycling them.

"We've worked with WMI to fine-tune the recycling program we've had in place and to make it more cost-efficient," Lee adds.WA