Six days a week, garbage trucks drive through Irving picking up curbside trash and hauling it to the Hunter Ferrell Landfill.
The landfill is about 300 acres of land, but only about 150 acres are used for waste disposal. The rest serves as buffer to distance the site from their neighbors. The city’s Solid Waste Services Department provides manual bag collection service, brush and bulky waste collection and a recycling program. Nearly 80 percent of waste can be recycled, and Brenda Haney, Director of Solid Waste Services, would like residents to utilize the recycling program.
“Seventy to 80 percent of what comes out of a garbage truck is recyclable,” Haney said. “We want the waste out here to degrade because that becomes less of a problem for generations ahead of us. We’re trying to minimize the environmental impact we have on today’s generations and all the future generations that have to deal with this footprint.”
Residents can bring recyclable materials to the landfill’s recycling drop off seven days a week, or they can place their recyclable materials on the curb in a blue transparent bag. The trash that is not recycled goes into the working face. The working face is a specified portion of the landfill where trash is compacted and covered at the end of every day.
“It is an area 50 feet by a 100 feet where we put trash for that day,” Haney said. “We’ll build to a specified height each day. We will put six inches of soil on the area that we’re not going to go back on top of. It’s kind of like a wedge that you progress each and every day.”
Haney has been working at the landfill for 17 years. Throughout her career, she has seen all sorts of things thrown into the landfill from hunting licenses, large amounts of money, and even wedding rings.
“You’d be surprised how often it happens on trash day,” Haney said. “As soon as you recognize that you’ve thrown something away, call our main number so we can stop the truck. If you think you might have thrown something away that was from last week, forget it because every day we’re moving the waste operation and I can’t go back and open up where we were a week ago.”
In May, Monica Brown accidentally threw away her wedding rings. Once Brown realized her rings were missing, her husband contacted the Solid Waste Services Department.
“They could actually pinpoint the truck and would work with him to search,” Brown said. “They said if we had been any slower, it would’ve been dumped. They took the truck and pulled it aside and basically emptied everything into three piles.”
After only ten minutes of searching, her husband and Robert Salinas, section chief of the landfill, found the rings.
“We celebrated our 27th anniversary in June,” Brown said. “We thought that was so kind, because who would want to dig through trash? We were just tickled they were even willing to try. They went the extra mile.”
Finding the rings was a team effort since the Browns were quick to communicate with the landfill and willing to dig through trash to look for the rings.
“This landfill doesn’t smell,” Salinas said. “We do a really good job here and we don’t have any odors. We’ll have people who want to stand and wait here next to the building instead of going all the way to the working face because they’re afraid. They think they’re going to be buried in trash, and it’s going to be nasty, and yucky, and smelly, and dirty; and it’s just not the case.”
The Solid Waste Services Department wants to help residents make better use of their recycling program and let residents know they are available to answer any questions residents may have regarding trash disposal.
“The recycling program is a win-win,” Haney said. “I think it’s a valuable asset for the community to have the ability to manage the waste we are generating. We want them to manage their waste as appropriately as possible, because that makes our life that much easier in the long run.”