At its meeting on Dec. 15, the Austin City Council unanimously approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, a long-term plan for Austin Resource Recovery (formerly Solid Waste Services) that projects future activities and services for the next 30 years. The Master Plan looks at the Department in its entirety and empowers the Austin community to achieve a drastic reduction in the amount of trash sent to area landfills.
“Austin Resource Recovery is transforming from an agency focused on waste management collection to one focused on materials resource management,” said Bob Gedert, Austin Resource Recovery Director. “This Master Plan is the road map to get us to Zero Waste.”
Zero Waste is a philosophy that goes beyond recycling to focus first on reducing trash and reusing products and then recycling and composting the rest. In 2009, City Council passed Texas’ first Zero Waste Plan and set a goal to reduce the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. To ensure Zero Waste is achieved, the Department has established more aggressive goals and plans to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by 90 percent by 2030.
“Zero Waste provides far-reaching benefits for the Austin community,” Gedert said. “It will reduce our dependence on landfills, reduce Austin’s greenhouse gas emissions and generate new green jobs in the community.”
Some highlights of the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan:
Establishing reuse centers and drop-off facilities throughout the city to recover a variety of recyclable, reusable and repairable materials, including batteries, motor oil, paint and anti-freeze
Enhancing the Single Stream Recycling Program by accepting additional material types
Conducting a pilot program to collect yard trimmings, food scraps and compostable paper at the curb; rolling out a new citywide organics collection program based on pilot program results
Developing and operating a new Household Hazardous Waste Facility in north Austin
Phasing in universal recycling and composting requirements to all waste generators, both residential and commercial, within the City of Austin
Redeveloping land at the closed City landfill for an Eco-Industrial Park, where major remanufacturing facilities are co-located with processors of recycled materials
Conducting pilot programs for hard-to-recycle materials like mattresses and carpet
Creating policies and ordinances to support Zero Waste
Building and maintaining community partnerships
The Master Plan is a culmination of an extensive dialogue with the Austin community. The Department made a significant effort to ensure that the Master Plan was driven by stakeholder input in order to reflect the vision and aspirations of the City and its community. Over an 18-month period, between April 2010 and November 2011, the Department developed the Master Plan with significant input from stakeholders throughout the community, including Austin residents and businesses, seven boards and commissions, other City Departments, representatives from communities and public agencies throughout the region, nonprofit and private sector service providers, academic institutions, community organizations and local environmental groups.
Designed to be a living document, the Master Plan will be updated annually and program assessments will occur every five years. Annual updates will allow for consideration of economic conditions and available resources. A detailed waste assessment study will be contracted every five years to measure against major milestones. Austin Resource Recovery will issue a report summarizing progress annually.