As part of our ongoing initiative to support businesses in the recycling and reuse sector, the City of Austin is pleased to provide this Circular Enterprise Resource Guide. The guide provides information on local programs, services, resources, community groups and regulations relevant to you as a zero waste entrepreneur.

Circular design resources

Circular Berlin Toolbox A collection of free tools for circular design, impact analysis, circular and social business models and more.
Circular Design Guide Find methods, case studies and other resources that help you design for circularity.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation An international charity committed to the creation of a circular economy. They offer tools and resources to help businesses transition to a circular economy.
ReFED Food Waste Solutions Database Use this tool to learn about food waste reduction solutions. You can search by impact goals, such as diversion potential and financial goals.
Upstream Reuse Directory A catalog that features reusable packaging and 'unpackaging' innovations. Search by reuse in food service, retail or shipping and packaging.

Equity-centered resources

DivInc DivInc is a nonprofit making the startup ecosystem more diverse, equitable and inclusive. They connect underrepresented entrepreneurs to resources and mentors. They offer a 12-week accelerator and program for alumni. They also run 'Startup Sistas', a program for Black and Brown women founders.
Environmental Protection Agency's EJScreen EJScreen is an environmental justice tool managed by the U.S. EPA. Search by geographic area to find demographic and environmental information.
JUST JUST is a social venture that invests in hard-working, low-income entrepreneurs. They offer microloans to free entrepreneurs from the cycle of debt.

Funding opportunities


Austin Fast Start A pitch competition with different industry targets each quarter. The top pitch(es) win an unrestricted cash prize, among other opportunities. Hosted in partnership between the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department and the Austin Young Chamber, with support from 3 Day Startup.
Philanthropitch Philanthropitch is a social impact fast-pitch competition for nonprofits, funded by Notley. Nonprofits can learn how to break out of the cycle of traditional philanthropy.
[RE]verse Pitch Competition [RE]verse Pitch is an annual social innovation challenge run by the City of Austin. Entrepreneurs create a new social enterprise using byproduct materials from a local business. Competitors receive help from mentors and advisors. The top teams win entry into an accelerator and a cash stipend.


Central Texas Angel Network CTAN is a member network of accredited local angel investors. They mentor and invest in early-stage entrepreneurs and start-ups. CTAN offers five funding cycles annually and is one of the most active angel networks in the U.S.
The City of Austin's Bright Green Futures School Grants Interested in partnering and/or piloting your business idea with a local school? This grant offers up to $3,000 for Austin-area schools to start sustainability projects. Applications are accepted yearly between August and September.
City of Austin Business Expansion Program The City of Austin has a Business Expansion Program that offers eligible businesses incentives to expand or move to Austin. It also helps businesses hiring people with barriers to employment.
City of Austin Family Business Loan Program (expansion loan) A low-interest loan program for qualified small businesses that create new jobs. The program is a public-private partnership between the City of Austin, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and private lenders.
City of Austin Veteran Business Loan Initiative The Veteran Business Loan is part of the Family Business Loan Program. It offers a low-interest rate loan and low borrower equity requirements to help create or expand a business.
Foodshed Investors Foodshed Investors is an investor network and impact accelerator. They help local sustainable food companies raise capital, work with experts and meet investors. Their work connects food, finance and social good.
JUST JUST is a social venture that invests in hard-working, low-income entrepreneurs. JUST offers microloans to free entrepreneurs from the cycle of debt.
Nonprofit community lenders Several local nonprofits make loans. They include LiftFund, ACCION, BiGAustin, PeopleFund, BCL of Texas, Capital CDC and Central Texas CDC.
Notley Notley is a social impact investment company that operates as an engine for social good. They offer seed capital and grants to social impact organizations.
SWAN Impact Network SWAN funds early-stage, for-profit companies that are helping make the world better. They are the fastest-growing impact angel network in the US.
Zero Waste Business Rebate Austin businesses can earn up to $3,000 in rebates from the City to increase or improve recycling, composting or other zero waste programs.

Government resources | City of Austin

Doing business with the City

Austin Energy Small Business Outreach Program Austin Energy offers rebates and discounts to help businesses save energy.
City of Austin's Small and Minority Business Resources Department The Small and Minority Business Resources Department (SMBR) promotes equity and access for disadvantaged small businesses. SMBR helps minority and women-owned businesses (MBE/WBE/DBE) to have equal opportunity with City of Austin contracts.
Small Business Resource Guide The Small Business Program runs a directory with rebates, grants and other resources.

Plans and studies

Austin Climate Equity Plan City Council adopted the Austin Climate Equity Plan in September 2021. The plan lays out how the city can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to nearly zero by 2030. It aims to address the disproportionate burden that climate change puts on low-income communities and communities of color.
Austin’s  Community Diversion Study (2015) The community diversion study is a study of residential and business activities in Austin to keep material out of the landfill. The study found that Austin’s community-wide diversion rate in 2015 was approximately 42%.
Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan Imagine Austin is the City’s 30-year comprehensive plan for its future.
The Recycling and Reuse‐related Economy of Austin (updated 2020) This report shows the economic impact and jobs that are supported by recycling and reuse-related activity in the Austin area as of 2019.
Zero Waste Master Plan This plan outlines how the City will reach its goal of zero waste goal of 90% diversion from landfill or incineration by 2040.

Zero waste ordinances

Construction and Demolition Recycling Ordinance This ordinance requires construction projects with 5,000 square feet or more of new, remodeled or added floor area to reuse or recycle at least 50% of construction debris or dispose of less than 2.5 lbs. of material per square foot of floor area. Commercial and multifamily demolition projects of all sizes must also meet ordinance requirements.
Hauler Licensing All private haulers that collect, remove or transport waste, recycling and/or organics/compost within the City of Austin for a fee, and companies that haul as part of their job, must get a private hauler license. The City maintains an online list of licensed haulers.
Special Events Ordinance The Special Events Ordinance applies to events in Austin. Event organizers must meet ordinance requirements, which include submitting a waste management plan. Larger events also need to document how they plan to reduce and divert waste onsite.
Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) The City of Austin requires all commercial and multifamily properties to provide convenient access to recycling to residents, employees and commercial tenants. Food service businesses must also put an organics diversion program in place. The goal is for those who work or live in these places to have access to convenient recycling or organics diversion. All properties must submit a recycling or organics plan each year to show they are meeting the URO requirements. All properties and businesses must provide signs and education to residents, commercial tenants and employees.

Government and academic resources | Other

Capital Area Council of Governments Solid Waste Planning CAPCOG is the state regional planning agency for Planning Region 12. They offer technical help to local governments and solid waste professionals.
Environmental Protection Agency Sustainable Materials Management This approach aims to use and reuse materials more productively. It helps estimate the environmental impacts of re-purposing recycled content.
The Governor's Small Business Resource Portal The Texas Economic Development Office has an online resource database. It features business advice, funding sources and more.
Recyclable Materials Feedstock Study by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality  TCEQ conducted a study to create a Recycling Market Development Program. The plan promotes using recyclable materials as inputs in processing and manufacturing. The plan also outlines ways for state and local government to increase Texas' recycling rate.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality TCEQ is the state agency in charge of most recycling-related regulations. They oversee landfill permits, electronics recycling and hazardous waste laws. They provide local landfill and MSW data. They also have material management resources on their site.
Texas Department of Transportation Roadway Recycled Materials Summaries TxDOT has research available for 12 recycled materials that could be used in road construction.
The University of Texas at Austin Materials Lab The Materials Lab at the School of Architecture has a collection with over 28,000 material samples. You can search online and filter by composition, form and other sustainable features. The lab welcomes visitors and is open to the public.

Networking and promotion

Austin’s Circular Story Austin’s Circular Story is a virtual, interactive map. It shows local businesses using circular practices and how they collaborate with each other.
Austin Green Business Leaders The Austin Green Business Leaders program highlights businesses that protect the environment and improve our community.
Austin Energy Green Building AEGB provides design tools to help build sustainable residential and commercial projects. It provides green building ratings, consulting services, education courses and more.
Austin Regional Manufacturer’s Association ARMA is a trade association that serves as the voice of manufacturing in the Austin area. They provide advocacy, workforce development and networking.
Austin Reuse Directory The Austin Reuse Directory is a search tool to help extend the life of everyday items. Find where to donate, resell or buy used or upcycled items, plus locate rental and/or repair services.
Zero Waste Block Leaders Block Leaders help spread the word about recycling, composting and zero waste to their neighbors.

Nonprofit resources

The Cascade Alliance offers free consulting to nonprofits. They help organizations turn trash into revenue. St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County runs the program.
Nonprofit Austin at Austin Community College Nonprofit Austin at ACC provides professional development services. They offer certificate programs and educational resources that cover a wide variety of topics. They also hold special events for nonprofit leaders and have a physical space to gather and network.

Real estate

Austin Chamber of Commerce The Austin Chamber may be able to provide connections to local commercial and industrial real estate resources. They have access to property databases for companies seeking space in the region. Their website provides a sampling of featured properties.
The City's Brownfields Revitalization Office The City helps property developers identify environmental barriers. This program offers building materials investigations, free site assessments and more.
City-owned property for sale or lease This site lists City property for sale or open lease solicitation.

Social impact accelerators and incubators

Austin Technology Incubator  ATI is the deep technology incubator of UT Austin. They help design and pilot circular economy technology as well as business model innovations. ATI connects entrepreneurs with academia, industry and government.
Concordia University Incubator for Innovation and Impact The Incubator offers social impact entrepreneurs access to investors, events and more. They also have co-working and meeting space.
Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas JBTVL is an accelerator at UT. They match early-stage Austin startups with graduate student teams. Each semester, JBTVL showcases the startups to the community and investors.
The University of Texas at Austin Global Sustainability Leadership Institute UT-Austin’s hub for innovation in social and environmental impact. They focus on corporate sustainability, impact entrepreneurship and sustainable finance. Students and the community can take part in programs, courses, events and research. The center is part of The McCombs School of Business.

Sourcing materials

Materials recovery facilities (MRFs)

Balcones Resources Balcones handles about 60% of the City of Austin’s residential recycling. They also accept residential and business recycling from the region. Balcones has MRFs in Austin and Taylor.
Texas Disposal Systems TDS handles about 45% of the City of Austin’s residential recycling. They also accept residential and business recycling from the region. Recyclables are processed at their MRF. TDS also owns and operates a landfill, compost operation, and a construction and demolition recycling facility.

Used materials

Austin Materials Marketplace This online tool can help source local, reusable or recyclable materials for your business. Scrap wood, furniture, textiles or pallets are some of the materials that may be available.
Austin Reuse Directory The Austin Reuse Directory is a search tool to help extend the life of everyday items. Find where to donate, resell or buy used or upcycled items, plus locate rental and repair services.
City of Austin Recycle and Reuse Drop-off Center Residents can drop off certain items to be recycled, reused or safely discarded. Free reused items are also available, such as ReBlend recycled paint and mulch. Some services have a fee. Appointments are required.
Recycling Demand Mapping in Texas In 2017, the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR), the City of Austin and the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) found over 125 businesses in Texas that process or use recycled feedstock.
Southeast Recycling Development Council The Southeast Recycling Development Council promotes recycling in the Southeast to strengthen the economy.
Surplus property sales Local secondhand materials may save you money, and reduce your carbon footprint and packaging waste. Consider surplus property stores or auctions (UT, county, state) or see what's available on the Austin Materials Marketplace before buying new. Local businesses may also have the material you need coming out as a byproduct.
US Environmental Protecction Agency (EPA) Recycled Content (ReCon) Tool This tool helps users estimate embodied carbon of materials made with recycled content.


Event and co-working spaces

Austin Public Library Individuals and groups may reserve meeting rooms at any Austin Public Library location, at no cost. Each library location has free public Wi-Fi, video conferencing and computers. Individuals can check out a mobile hotspot or laptop with a library card. Individuals may reserve small study/meeting rooms. Individuals or groups may rent event spaces at Central Library downtown for a fee.
Impact Hub Austin Impact Hub Austin is a global co-working community for social impact entrepreneurs. The Austin center offers a shared workspace and private offices. They also host events and programs to help changemakers. All companies and people are welcome.
Vesper Vesper is a nonprofit event space that hosts both community and private events. Discounts may be available for public events with a community benefit. The space holds 300 people.


ACC Fashion Incubator Austin Community College’s Fashion Incubator prepares aspiring designers and established entrepreneurs for success. Funded in part by the City of Austin, the 7,500-square-foot facility offers career-technical training, courses for the public, a residency program, leasable space and more.
ACC Impact Lab IMPACT Lab is an innovation center at Austin Community College. The lab focuses on physical product development and manufacturing.
Asmbly Asmbly is the largest nonprofit makerspace in Austin, Texas. Members can access equipment for woodworking, soldering, sewing, welding, CNC, 3D Printing and more. They also offer classes to learn how to use the equipment.
CRAFT CRAFT is a walk-in arts and crafts room for adults. CRAFT also offers workshops, venue rentals for events and meetings and weekly and monthly coworking (you don’t need to be an artist).
make+SHift make+SHift is a makerspace offering design classes, design education and CNC services to turn help turn business ideas into products.
Pecan Street Pecan Street conducts research and analysis on climate issues related to energy, water, transportation and agriculture. They can help with product testing, development, field demos and prototyping for hardware, software and big-data analytics.

Start-up coaching and training

Austin Public Library Members of the Austin Public Library can access industry and academic journals, as well as other free training materials.
City of Austin business coaching The City offers free, confidential business coaching. Coaches can help review business or marketing plans and assess financial readiness. You must complete the free BizAid class first.
Economic Growth Business Incubator

EGBI provides training and coaching to new and existing business owners seeking to start or grow their business.

Huston-Tillotson University Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation CEI offers classes for small-business owners, workshops and one-week startup “boot camps." Entrepreneurs can use free space at the center for up to eight months and get free consultation.
SCORE SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. They help small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. Since 1964, they have provided education and mentorship to over 11 million entrepreneurs. SCORE is a non-profit and resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. They helped their clients start 25,084 new small businesses in 2021.
Texas State University Small Business Development Center Texas State SBDC offers many services to small businesses at no-cost. They include business advising, research services and low-cost trainings