The most recent version of Municipal Solid Waste in Texas: A Year in Review was released this month and we’ve extracted some of the important waste related findings.

Municipal Solid Waste in Texas: A Year in Review is prepared by the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Permits Section of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The summary includes data on the types and amounts of waste disposed and processed at the state’s permitted and registered MSW facilities. The report also includes an estimate of the state’s remaining MSW landfill disposal capacity.

In accordance with Title 30, Chapter 330, Subchapter P of Texas Administrative Code, MSW operators must submit annual reports detailing the types and amounts or waste they processed or disposed. Reports from MSW facilities are based on a fiscal year, which runs from September 1 through August 31. All references to 2016 are related to fiscal year 2016 (September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016).

In this year’s report, 195 active landfills and 202 active processing facilities submitted data. Every active landfill can be seen in the map below.

Active Texas MSW Landfills by Type 2016


Landfill Types

Type I – Standard landfill accounting for 50% of active landfills and 89% of total waste disposed.

Type IV – Only accepts brush, construction or demolition (C&D) waste, and other similar nonputrescible waste, accounting for 11% of active landfills, almost 10% of total waste disposed.

Arid Exempt (AE) Landfills – Type I and Type IV exempt from liner and groundwater monitoring requirements, accounting for  36% of active landfills, 1% of the total waste disposed.

Monofill – Dispose demolition waste in counties or municipalities with 12,000 or fewer people.

Waste Types and Amounts

In 2016, municipal waste accounted for approximately 65% of the total waste disposed at MSW landfills; construction or demolition waste, the second largest waste type, accounted for approximately 20%. The types and estimated amounts of waste disposed in Texas MSW landfills can be seen below.

Types and Amounts of Waste Disposed in Texas MSW Landfills 2016








Per Capita Disposal Rates

In 2016, approximately 34.73 million tons of waste was disposed in Texas MSW landfills. Using the 2016 state population estimate of 27,862,596, the average disposal rate in Texas was 6.83 pounds per person per day, which is slightly above the 2015 rate of 6.67 pounds. Population data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016

Per Capita Waste Disposal Rates Texas MSW 2016

Landfill Reserve Capacity

The total remaining MSW landfill capacity in the State of Texas at the end of 2016 was 2.81 billion cubic yards. Based on reported compaction rates, this volume would hold 1.93 billion tons of waste and serve for 56 years. Reserve capacity (expressed in terms of years) is the remaining capacity (expressed in terms of tons) divided by the waste disposal rate (tons disposed) for the current reporting year. From 1986 to the mid-1990s, the state’s reserve capacity for disposal in MSW landfills was less than 22 years. Beginning in 2004, the capacity steadily increased with a maximum of 64 years reached in 2011. The current reserve capacity for disposal is approximately 56 years!

Expansion in the available volume of permitted disposal capacity; improvements in compaction and diversion; and the state’s economic activity are probable contributing factors affecting the reserve capacity trend. For example, the average compaction rate in 1986 was approximately 650 pounds of waste per cubic yard; in 2000 the average rate was approximately 1,000 pounds per cubic yard; and by 2016 the calculated average compaction rate was 1,117 pounds per cubic yard.

Number or Texas MSW Landfills and Reserve Capacity

In addition to improvements in operations at MSW landfills, the size of landfills has continued to increase. In 1986, the statewide average landfill size was 50 acres with an average height of 13 feet. In 2016, the statewide average landfill size was 246 acres with an average height of 84 feet.

Public and private programs for reducing, reusing, and recycling also assist in preserving disposal capacity in MSW landfills. Throughout the state, paper, glass, aluminum cans, plastic, scrap metal, wood, electronics, scrap tires, organic materials and numerous other materials are diverted from being disposed of at landfills every day. The economic impacts these recycling practices have on the State of Texas are presented in the Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling released earlier this year by TCEQ.

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