More businesses forced to recycle under ordinance

(Jackie Vega/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Recycling is about to become much easier for Austinites. Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, more businesses and multifamily properties will be required to offer recycling as part of the next phase of the Universal Recycling Ordinance.

The ordinance, adopted by the City Council in 2012, establishes minimum recycling standards for commercial properties to ensure convenient recycling is available to employees and tenants. By Oct. 1, 2017, all businesses in Austin will be required to recycle.

The newly affected businesses include all types of commercial properties larger than 50,000 square feet and multifamily properties with more than 25 units.

Some businesses that may not currently have recycling programs, such as retail stores, malls, hotels and motels, industrial facilities, restaurants, bars and grocery stores, are now affected by the ordinance. Affected properties must provide access to recycling for plastics, paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum.

Properties must have recycling containers within 25 feet of all trash containers, post signs, provide recycling education, and submit an online Annual Diversion Plan to document recycling.

City officials are taking steps to notify newly affected businesses of the requirements, including mailing letters directly to property owners, working with business organizations, conducting site visits, and providing free training.

“Austin Resource Recovery is committed to helping businesses find cost-effective solutions and establish recycling programs that can significantly reduce waste and meet City requirements,” business outreach manager, Aiden Cohen said.

In kicking off the third year of the ordinance, the City is implementing an improved system to help businesses meet reporting requirements. Property managers or owners are required to submit an Annual Diversion Plan (previously referred to as a Recycling Plan) each year between Oct. 1 and Feb. 1. The new system is easier for property managers to complete and evaluate if their recycling program meets the requirements. The system also will help Austin Resource Recovery estimate how much trash is being diverted from landfills.

Property managers and owners that do not make a good faith effort to comply with the ordinance will be referred to the Austin Code Department for enforcement actions. Failure to comply with the Universal Recycling Ordinance is punishable by fines of up to $2,000 per day, per violation.

Property managers and businesses are encouraged to take advantage of one of the free Lunch & Learn recycling trainings. Resources also are available here or by contacting the City’s business outreach team at 512-974-9727 or An informational video provides an overview of the Universal Recycling Ordinance.

Austin Resource Recovery invites property managers and business owners to learn more at a series of free Lunch & Learn sessions. Learn more and register online at provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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