Touring Arlington’s Landfill

For about 50 years a vast land has rested on the outskirts of Arlington on Mosier Valley Road. There, activity takes place – unbeknownst to many, but vital to the city.

Spanning for about 790 acres, this land makes up the Arlington Landfill.

On a cloudy day, the landfill’s light brown terrain gives a surreal backdrop for a hub of activity.

Large trucks roam amongst hills, mounds, dips and turns carrying out specific duties like the workers of an ant colony.

Dyed mounds of black, maroon, beige and brown mulch, created from recycled leaves, bark and compost, form a multicolored valley of hills, known as the brush pile.

Deep within the landfill, yellow machines with sharp jaws tower overhead, gripping blocks of concrete before sending them to a crusher, which turns them into pebbles ready for reuse.

Bob Weber, environmental administrator for the landfill, said along with concrete the landfill diverts other materials back to the community.

Different contractors come to the landfill from all over the Metroplex to purchase its recycled materials, he said.

Who is the landfill’s most frequent guest?

Waste. And it’s brought in by the tons.

According to data from the Arlington Landfill, each day the landfill accepts approximately 2,500 tons of waste from homes and businesses in Arlington and other surrounding communities in Tarrant County.

Massive tractors roll over the day’s trash, condensing it for burial.

“The whole key is to compact,” Weber said. “The more those packers run over it, the more space the landfill has to receive trash.”

After putting on a neon yellow jacket, Weber often gets into a white pick-up and takes a bumpy drive to different points of the landfill.

“You see where the water is?” Weber asked, after stepping out of the truck and pointing to a body of water from a point he said is about 605 ft. above sea level. “That’s what we consider the floor.”

While overlooking the terrain, Weber stood on what looked like normal ground.

“There’s six to eight inches of dirt you’re standing on, and then it’s trash,” he said.

Time is ticking for the landfill

With each passing day, the Arlington Landfill moves closer to its ending date.

“Under the current permit, we have 12 years,” Weber said.

Fortunately, the landfill is close to getting approval for an expansion, which will allow it to operate for another 40 to 45 years, he said.

Lorrie Anderle, recycling coordinator for Public Works, said residents should be aware of the importance of the landfill because of the planet’s limited resources.

“Once the landfill is full, residents would have to pay more to have their trash shipped away,” she said.

Better steps for the environment

Weber said residents need to be conscious of the role they have in the longevity of the landfill.

“The more we recycle, divert away from the landfill, the longer the landfill remains open,” Weber said.

For residents to reduce their trash and be more conscious about their environment, diversion and recycling is the key, he said.

Crissa Wood, a school teacher and Arlington resident, said she and her family recycle materials such as mail and plastics.

“I think it’s really important,” she said. “You don’t realize how much you cut down on trash.”

Weber said other materials that are very important to recycle include concrete, brush, e-waste and any kind of metal.

“All of that stuff, if there’s a reuse for it, there’s no sense in burying it,” he said.

According to data from the landfill, the landfill does not accept certain waste, such as batteries, medical waste and tires.

“The one aspect I’d like everybody to know about the landfill is how environmentally conscious we are of what we take,” Weber said.

Weber, who began working at the landfill in ’97, said his main tasks are to oversee landfill operations and assists with permit communications.

However, one task he said is the most significant.

“I just like making a difference,” he said.

articles_garbage_031314