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Dallas to Build Recycling Facility

Dallas has agreed to build a new material recovery facility (MRF) to process and market up to 120,000 tons of recycling material annually.

The Dallas city council approved a contract with Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC), to build and operate the new recycling plant at a cost of $20 million at the McCommas Bluff Landfill, according to a news release. The city expects construction to begin in early 2016 and operations to start by January 2017.

The facility culminates a two-year process for Dallas to develop a long-term recycling program. It evaluated multiple recycling and resource recovery technologies to increase recycling.

Dallas’ plan is to achieve a 40-percent recycling rate by 2020 and have it increase further with time. The city decided to focus on single-stream recycling, as opposed to mixed waste processing, gasification or anaerobic digestion, because it saw the opportunity to increase recovery rates from the existing single-stream program.

The consulting firm Burns & McDonnell advised the city on implementing the program.

“With our current recycling processing agreement expiring in December 2016, we sought to develop a request for proposals that included an opportunity for a meaningful public-private partnership in which the city and a private company would be incentivized to increase recycling among residential households, apartments and commercial businesses by sharing risks and financial rewards,” said Kelly High, Dallas sanitation director. 

The city considered two options: a processing services agreement, or a new facility on a 15-acre site at the landfill.

“Recognizing that the city was offering to provide the land, a convenient location and key infrastructure, we thought that there could be interest in building a new MRF at the McCommas Bluff Landfill,” said Scott Pasternak, project manager for Burns & McDonnell.

FCC, a European company with U.S. headquarters in The Woodlands, Texas, included in its proposal a host fee, public education contributions, revenue sharing, processing fees and a guarantee that the city would not have to pay FCC when processing fees exceed the value of commodity revenue.

“This will be the largest public-private partnership of its kind in Texas,” Pasternak said. “This partnership between the city and FCC should provide a solid foundation for continued efforts to increase recycling in the city of Dallas and surrounding communities.”  

Dallas has struggled to improve its recycling rate. In May it was sued over its single-use carryout bag restriction.

And in 2013 the city settled in a long-standing flow control case, allowing haulers in the area to dispose of waste where they choose. Dallas in September 2011 passed an ordinance that all waste collected inside its borders go to the city’s McCommas Bluff Landfill. The settlement made permanent a court injunction against the ordinance issued in October 2012.

Meanwhile, both the private and public sector struggle with how the drop in commodity prices have put pressure on both to make the recycling business more economical.


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