Building Waco’s Future: Landfill Planning

This information was developed following the Waco City Council’s decision to authorize a contract beginning the permitting process for the proposed landfill site at the August 2016 meeting.

Note: In February 2017, area residents expressed some concerns about the proposal. This page was updated at that time.

Why is the City of Waco pursuing a new landfill?

  • The City’s Solid Waste Services Department has concluded that it needs to begin the process of building a new landfill due to the current landfill’s capacity having only about 8 years of life remaining. Without a new landfill, the City of Waco would have extreme operational challenges and costs.
  • Planning ahead is imperative in order to have an adequate site in full operation before the life runs out (optimally, five years from now).
  • The item approved by the City Council on August 16th is a step in moving forward in this process. This will allow the City to move forward in hiring engineers and other necessary professionals for the permitting process at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
  • The City has taken numerous steps to extend the life of the current landfill including: compaction of waste to make the space last, initiating a request for proposals for innovative waste to energy projects to reduce the volume of waste and implemented city-wide recycling and waste diversion practices.

About landfills in the United States & where our trash goes

  • Americans generate trash at an astonishing rate of 4.6 pounds (2.1 kilograms) per day per person, which translates to 251 million tons (228 million metric tons) per year [source: EPA].
  • This is almost twice as much trash per person as most other major countries.
  • In the U.S., some of our trash gets recycled or recovered and some is burned, but the majority is buried in landfills.

About our current landfill

  • The City of Waco operates a Type I Municipal Solid Waste landfill that receives approximately 288,000 tons of waste per year for disposal. The landfill is located at 11400 Old McGregor Road off Highway 84.
  • A full size ¾ or 1 ton pickup can hold 2-3 cubic yards of garbage, slightly rounded, weighing about 500 lbs.  So that means the landfill accepts over 1 million pick-up truck loads per year!
  • More than 50% of our landfill is made up of waste from businesses.
  • Our landfill is public and open to any users, this is a State requirement.
  • More about our landfill...

Location: Is there a site under consideration now?

  • Yes. There is a proposed site. Staff reviewed available options and determined there is an ideal parcel of land near the current landfill site. Its underlying geology—a unique outcropping of shale and clay—makes protecting groundwater simple and relatively cost effective.
  • The proposed site will be permitted as a new landfill by TCEQ in full compliance with all TCEQ rules and regulations.
  • This location, with frontage along FM 2837, also allows for better access to haulers and residents.
  • The proposed 270-acre site, which is slightly larger than the current 237-acre site, has a generous buffer that separates it from neighboring homes and businesses.
  • This design enables the City to properly manage its solid waste mangement needs to allow for at least a 40-year life for its operations.

Why not consider a site further from town?

  • We have researched many other sites and have concluded that there are no other options with the ideal geology anywhere close to Waco.
  • We looked at the possibility of a site that is 30 miles away but it would require a transfer station operation near Waco that is estimated to cost several times more than building a new landfill site on property we already own.
  • The proposed site will help us to better control our fees and services (important to taxpayers) and will keep up with demand consistent to the growth and expectations of the City. It is an environmentally superior sound choice as well.

Is the recycling program helping the current landfill?

  • Curbside recycling and yard waste diversion for our residents has diverted an estimated 19,000 tons of solid waste annually from the current site allowing us to stretch the usage of the current site by several years.
  • Many of our local businesses, schools, and industries have very active recycling programs as well.
  • Waco is also lucky to have several active recycling businesses.
  • Unfortunately, recycling alone will not avert the need for a landfill.

Do you expect concerns from the community?

  • Area leadership and citizens of Waco have long been progressive thinkers in supporting initiatives that benefit the well-being of their communities.
  • We are committed to handling this process in a transparent and inclusive way.
  • There have been concerns about the Cottonbelt Trail being impacted by a new landfill. The proposed site will include a significant buffer from the Cottonbelt Trail. The Cottonbelt Trail, a $4.2 million joint undertaking funded by the federal government and the City of Waco (including Solid Waste funds) is a valuable city asset that will be preserved.
  • More about the Cottonbelt Trail...

What are the next steps in the process?

  • It will take approximately 6 to 9 months to submit the permit application to the State.
  • The entire process will take roughly 4 to 5 years.
  • During the permitting process there will be ample opportunity for public engagement and comment. The city plans to reach out to the affected neighbors of the proposed site once a draft site plan is available.
  • We will be providing updates to the City Council as needed during the process.

Questions? Feel free to contact us here.