PHOTO #1: A cell under construction at the Victoria landfill, 18141 FM 1686, is covered with a thick plastic liner to prevent contaminants from leaking into the environment. Since January 2021, the landfill has received more than 365,000 tons of waste. The cell pictured here began receiving waste in early 2021; the next landfill cell will be constructed in early 2024.
If it’s plastic, then it’s recyclable, right? Will Environmental Services pick up my old TV? I’ve heard it’s not safe to throw away those spiral lightbulbs, so what should I do with them?
The City of Victoria Environmental Services offers a range of waste disposal methods to help residents get rid of waste safely and sustainably. Keep reading to find out where your trash goes—and how you can make sure it gets to the right place.
Household hazardous waste
Environmental Services contracts with Waste Management At Your Door Hazardous Waste Pick-Up to pick up items that could harm the environment. These include old electronics; fluorescent lightbulbs; car batteries; and toxic chemicals like motor oil and pesticides.
Hazardous waste is taken to a warehouse in New Braunfels and sorted. Some materials are reused and repurposed, while others are taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility.
To schedule a pickup, contact Waste Management at 1-800-449-7587 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s some more information about the program:
Some car battery vendors also collect used batteries for recycling. Contact your shop to see if they offer this service.
PHOTO #2: A screener machine at the City’s compost facility separates coarse chips from compost that has finished decomposing.
If you’re a gardener, the tree limbs and yard waste you leave out for the City may come back to you as compost for your plants. These organic items are delivered to Garden-Ville and mixed with decontaminated biosolids from Public Works to produce nitrogen-rich compost.
Yard waste consists of leaves, grass clippings, hedge trimmings and small branches collected from your yard. These are picked up weekly. To find out when this yard waste is picked up in your area, visit www.victoriatx.gov/service-schedule. Remember that bags are processed along with yard waste, so only use paper bags, never plastic.
Tree limb pickups need to be scheduled by calling Solid Waste at 361-485-3220, or submit a request online at www.victoriatx.gov/onlineservicerequest.
If you’d like to buy compost (in bags or a truckload), visit Garden-Ville at 18125 FM 1686 (next to the landfill).
PHOTO #3: A compactor is used to compact recyclables at the Waste Management recycling center, 809 N. George St. Each load is compacted to less than a third of its original volume. Then, the items are shipped to a materials recovery facility and sorted.
PHOTO #4: Items that residents discarded for recycling sit in a pile at the Waste Management recycling center, 809 N. George St. Some contaminants are visible, including wire coat hangers, a wire brush and a work glove.
Everyone knows recycling is good for the environment, but just because it’s plastic doesn’t mean it should go in your green bin. Here’s a quick overview of what can and can’t be recycled through the City of Victoria’s program.
The facility that accepts Victoria’s recycling requires a contamination rate of less than 20%. If a load has too many contaminants, both good and bad items could wind up in the landfill. Here are some of the most common culprits:
- Ice chests: They may look like recyclable plastic on the outside, but ice chests are filled with foam that can burst out during the compacting process and spoil a load.
- Milk cartons: Even though they’re made of paper, these cartons are typically covered in a waxy coating that makes them impossible to recycle.
- Glass: Environmental Services closely monitors the prices of recyclables to make sure the program is affordable for residents. Because of the high costs associated with recycling glass, the City of Victoria does not accept glass for recycling.
- Plastics No. 3-7: The City only accepts plastics No. 1 and 2. Many single-use plastics are marked with their number designation. If an item doesn’t have a number, your safest bet is to throw it away.
Recycling is picked up every other week. To find out when recycling is picked up in your area, visit www.victoriatx.gov/service-schedule. For more information about the City’s recycling program, call Solid Waste at 361-485-3220.
Whatever is not recycled ends up in the landfill, and the City follows strict rules to make sure trash doesn’t contaminate the soil or the water. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation of a half-cell at the landfill:
Last year, the landfill took in more than 174,000 tons of trash. That’s about 607 tons per day of operation!
Many items can take hundreds of years to decompose, which is why it’s so important to reduce, reuse and recycle.
As trash decomposes, it produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Many landfills deal with this gas by flaring it, which is safer than letting it escape into the atmosphere. However, Environmental Services uses an even more eco-friendly and cost-effective method.
The methane is collected and sent to a gas plant, where it undergoes a process of heating and rapid cooling that results in a medium-grade natural gas. The gas is then piped to the local INEOS Nitriles plant and sold.
Be a part of the solution
Environmental Services’ waste disposal programs are carefully designed to ensure residents can dispose of their waste properly. However, the system only works if residents know how to use it. Be sure to dispose of hazardous materials correctly, provide your yard waste for composting and recycle items that are accepted by the City’s program.
To learn more about Environmental Services, visit www.victoriatx.gov/environmental-services.
Sam Hankins is the communications specialist for the City of Victoria.