In 2010, the City of Austin approved the state’s first Zero Waste Master Plan which challenges local residents and business owners to reduce discards headed to landfills by 90% by 2040 or sooner. In accordance with the Zero Waste Master Plan, the Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO):

  • Phases in all commercial and multi-family properties by 2018 to divert recyclables, including glass, rigid plastics, paper, cardboard, and metals.
  • Phases in all food-permitted businesses by 2018 to divert organic wastes, including food scraps, soiled paper, and landscape trimmings.

Zero Waste Strategies provides a simple path forward in assisting Austin businesses with URO compliance through materials diversion, employee training, and reporting requirements. Our main foci are to help companies maximize purchasing power, optimize operational efficiencies, and facilitate staff education to avert costly non-compliance penalties that may be levied by the City.

Please review the charts below to determine if your business is subject to Austin's URO policy & contact us to get started!

zws Recycling SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Assisting eligible businesses in applying for Austin's $1800 rebate to help offset costs of new or expanded recycling programs
  • Providing a visual or detailed waste composition analysis to understand percentages of recyclable materials and diversion capabilities
  • Providing required annual education programs for staff and renters on "recycling right" to help drive business diversion rates
  • Working with haulers to renegotiate current contracts or requesting competitive contract bids for new or replacement hauling services
  • Facilitating submission of annual URO reporting required by the City of Austin

recycling diversion:

  • Apartments
  • Condominiums
  • Mobile home parks
  • Private funded dorms
  • Assisted living facilities
City of Austin timeline for affected multi-family properties

City of Austin timeline for affected multi-family properties

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  • Retail
  • Medical facilities
  • Hotels and Motels
  • Religious buildings
  • Commercial office buildings
  • Private educational facilities
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities

* Only commercial offices, educational facilities, medical facilities, and religious buildings

** Mixed-Use properties can report Commercial and Multifamily spaces separately, or aggregate information on a single Annual Diversion Plan as a commercial property. The affected date for a Mixed-Use property is based on the predominant use (majority of square footage used) of the facility.

City of Austin timeline for affected commercial properties

City of Austin timeline for affected commercial properties

zws ORGANICS SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Assisting eligible businesses in applying for Austin's $1800 rebate to help offset costs of new or expanded recycling programs
  • Providing a visual or detailed analysis to understand the composition of organic discards
  • Utilizing the EPA hierarchy of food donations to help businesses capitalize on newly increased federal tax benefits 
  • Educating employees and janitorial staff on proper diversion techniques
  • Facilitating record keeping for municipal reporting requirements

ORGANICS diversion:

Based on square footage, Austin started phasing in food-permitted businesses to establish programs to reduce and divert organic materials (e.g. food scraps, yard trimmings). Grocers, farmer's markets, restaurants, bars, caterers, food trucks, and others to establish programs to reduce and divert organic materials (e.g. food scraps, yard trimmings). By Oct. 1, 2018, all food enterprises* will be required to ensure their employees have convenient access to organics diversion services and proper training to support "recycling right".

Food enterprise- establishment that serves non-prepackaged food and is required to hold a food permit such as a food or beverage distributor, processor, preparation facility, retailer, or service.

City of Austin timeline for organics diversion

City of Austin timeline for organics diversion