Rock, Paper, Landfill Liner

Recycling in Dallas is as big as the city itself. As part of WasteExpo '99, attendees have the option of touring three waste management and recycling facilities: Balcones Recycling, Rock-Tenn Recycling and the McCommas Bluff landfill. Here is a preview of the sites attendees will see firsthand:

Partnering Up Dallas-based Balcones Recycling is the largest high-grade recycling plant in the southern United States, and one of the waste management industry's strongest links to Mexico. Primarily a commercial paper recycler, Balcones runs three processing facilities in Dallas; Austin, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark. The Dallas facility contains a 100,000-square-foot enclosed processing area, two high-production balers, three live floor conveyors and a sort line.

Approximately 95 percent of the processed materials at the Dallas facility is collected from commercial accounts by two major haulers: Republic Waste Services Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Community Waste Disposal, Dallas.

Balcones processes 6,000 tons per month (tpm) to 7,000 tpm of high-grade paper in Dallas, 60 percent to 70 percent of which is pre-consumer fiber. The facility also processes 800 tpm to 1,000 tpm of old newspapers (ONP) and old corrugated cardboard (OCC), and about 500 tpm of mixed paper.

Most of the materials baled by the processor are sold to manufacturing facilities in Mexico, where they are made into tissue, printing and writing paper, and cardboard packaging, according to Carlos Rovelo, president of Latin American business operations for Balcones. Mexico has the production capacity but lacks materials.

"Just as we sell the materials to Mexico, they sell the end product back to us," Rovelo says.

Mexico is the No. 2 trading partner for the United States, behind Canada, marketing 85 percent of its products here.

For commercial printers, Balcones can customize its recycling programs to fit size and operational specifications. This includes a flexible collection schedule ranging from once a week pickups of loose material to daily pickups of baled material. The company also offers equipment consultation and financing on pneumatic collection and baling systems.

Balcones has the capacity to bale materials in accordance with the mills' specific needs, Rovelo says.

One of Balcones' hallmark services is designing programs that significantly reduce waste disposal costs for multi-tenant office buildings, corporations and government offices by diverting the maximum amount of recyclable material from the waste stream. Balcones' trademarked "Anything That Tears!" recycling program accepts nearly every paper type generated in an office, and does not require it to be sorted, making recycling more efficient and cost-effective for customers.

Emphasis on Recycled Content Founded in 1893, the Rock-Tenn Co.'s original one-machine operation now produces 450 tons per day (tpd) of coated and uncoated recycled-content paper.

Rock-Tenn operates a paper recovery division, Rock-Tenn Recycling and 10 paperboard mills located from Vermont to Texas. Rock-Tenn is North America's largest manufacturer of 100 percent recycled paperboard. The facilities in the Rock-Tenn Recycling division collect, sort and bale hundreds of thousands of tons of quality recovered paper each year, including OCC, ONP, recovered office paper, mixed paper and other paper.

The paperboard mills are integrated with the recovery operations. Together, these two recover more than 1 million tons of paper per year.

As the oldest recycled paper mill in the southwestern United States - producing recycled content paper throughout the entire 20th century - Rock-Tenn's Dallas mill has undergone financial investments and continuous modernization throughout the operation to make it the leading paper recycler in the city. The company purchased the Dallas facility in 1979.

Dallas Recycling and other local paper merchants supply most of the feedstock to the Dallas mill, which in turn supplies four Rock-Tenn folding carton manufacturing plants located throughout the state of Texas.

Recycling office paper, including copier, typing and computer paper, is one of the best opportunities to make a positive environmental impact, according to Diane Hansen, program manager for Rock-Tenn Recycling. This is because significantly less office paper is recycled across the country than almost any other form of recoverable paper product, she says.

Rock-Tenn recovers shipping containers, trim, printing surplus and other paper materials by placing carts, buggies, baskets and outside containers with its customers. Part of the company's recovery audit program involves recommending specific equipment to address customer needs.

Much of the equipment is provided to customers by Rock-Tenn at no charge. Customers that generate a substantial volume of paper can lease or purchase compactors and balers through the company.

Rock-Tenn also works with municipalities across the country to help reduce landfill costs by developing programs to increase paper recovery.

Separation operations within the company's plants allow blue-bag programs to drop off recyclables directly from their collection routes, whetheror not other recyclables are mixed in with the paper. Rock-Tenn then processes that paper. Drop-off sites, Clean & Beautiful programs, municipalities and other non-profits all provide paper for Rock-Tenn to recycle.

A City-Run Landfill Dallas' disposal needs are handled by a city-run, state-of-the-art Subtitle D landfill, with 964 acres out of 2,000 permitted for disposal and an expected life of at least 57 more years.

McCommas Bluff, located on the Trinity River 10 miles outside of Dallas, is the site of the first steamboat landing in the city. Now it is the site of the city-owned landfill, in operation since October 1980. The landfill accepts 3,500 tpd to 4,000 tpd of residential and commercial waste from Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. (BFI), Houston; Waste Management Inc., Houston; and local Dallas haulers such as Blue Bonnet Disposal and All-American Waste. BFI recently was purchased by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Allied Waste. The landfill does not take any waste from out of state, according to John Barlow, assistant disposal manager for the city of Dallas' Street, Sanitation and Code Enforcement Services.

A city-owned transfer station handles long-distance hauling to the McCommas landfill, which also has a maintenance shop to support heavy equipment.

The facility also boasts a methane gas recovery facility on site. Right now, it is an open flare facility, but the landfill will start to channel it for energy use this year, Barlow says. The facility will provide energy to a Frito-Lay Co., Dallas, facility and other commercial facilities.

Dallas also started a large scale composting operation located at the McCommas Landfill, where residents can bring yard waste for recycling at no charge.

The composting facility is expected to be operational this summer, after the city purchases equipment.

Later this year, the city will start operating a mixed waste recycling facility on-site, where residents will be able to drop off recyclables that will be carted away by a private hauler who will pay the city for the materials.

This will be the first publicly run materials recovery facility (MRF) in the city, Barlow says, adding that materials collected at the MRF will likely account for 10 percent of the materials discarded at the landfill. WA