Recycling critical as landfill nears capacity

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The current landfill in Fort Stockton is nearing the date when it reaches its capacity, but a plan is in place for a new location.

The current landfill sits at 3400 Stone Road and has been in use since the early 1970s, according to Public Works Director Aaron Ramos.

The new location will be 80 acres off of Moody Road, one mile from the current landfill. Planners estimate it should last the city around 100 years.

The biggest problem with the current landfill is that around 80 percent of the items that end up in the trash are recyclable items that were instead thrown away.

“It's free to recycle,” said Ramos.

The recycling facility is at 604 N. Valentine Street, but the public works department is hoping to get a bigger facility next year.

Currently, people have to take the initiative to bring their recyclables to the site. People need to sort items in the proper bins. People may recycle items 24 hours a day.

Items are separated into categories: aluminum, glass, paper, cardboard and plastic.

Ramos said that if the population continues to grow they may be able to support home recycling with a fee for the extra people and equipment, but for the time being that isn't a viable option.

Businesses like Family Dollar, Walmart or Dollar Tree are able to requests bins for the cardboard boxes they use. The bins are collected by the city.

The landfill has an area where people may recycle tires and wood. The wood is turned into mulch.

The current landfill has a daily limit of 20 tons of regular trash and 20 tons of construction or demolition material, brush and tree limbs.

City workers have to be careful to stay within the limits because it is nearing capacity.

Daily, a compacter is used to crush down the trash, which includes a lot of cardboard, plastics and other items that could ultimately be recycled if placed in the right area.

They also cover each trash area daily with a loose soil.

The construction of the new landfill is expected to take about four to six months, which would operational before the current landfill is completely full in Spring 2020.

The old landfill will be buried, covered and plants will be placed on top to disguise the fact it used to be a landfill.

Ramos hopes that the new landfill will be managed properly and that people will start being more mindful when it comes to recycling to extend the life of the new landfill.

“This should have been done a long time ago,” he said.

In 1990, the Fort Stockton City Council voted against a landfill advisory board, stating that they didn't see a need.

In 1990, council members also mentioned that recycling was important, but they didn't have the capacity or know how to do it.

Now, less than 30 years later, Ramos said the effects are harder to fix.

“We have to manage it the right way,” he said. “Recycling helps everybody.”

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