Austin Resource Recovery is trying to eliminate the concept of waste by diverting 90% of the solid waste sent to landfills and incinerators by 2040. To demonstrate how restaurants can help meet this Zero Waste goal and save money by implementing recycling and composting programs, a Restaurant Composting and Recycling Pilot Program was launched in September of 2012.
Fourteen local restaurants participated in the pilot. Outreach materials were provided to participating restaurants that included educational signage and container decals. Bilingual training was also provided for restaurant managers and staff. Composting and recycling pick-up was provided by Ecology in Action and Organics by Gosh.
Over half of the participating businesses experienced a considerable reduction in their trash collection service. In fact, 40% to 50% of the waste generated by restaurants is from food scraps and other compostable items. The Pilot Program included identifying challenges and potential solutions for issues such as:
• adding recycling and composting to existing trash collection services
• placement of collection containers, given restrictions in size, space, and lease agreements
• optimizing container sizes and service frequencies
• educating the food service work force
The Pilot Program was well-timed. In April of this year, Council approved an ordinance requiring all Austin restaurants to begin composting by 2017, as well as start recycling paper, plastics, and aluminum by 2014.
Austin Resource Recovery also launched a residential Curbside Organics Collection Pilot Program to 7,900 homes this year with the goal of expanding compost collection services citywide in the future.
Find out more about the sustainability initiatives being tracked as part of the Sustainability Action Agenda and decide how you will take action to secure a bright, green future for Austin.