The Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) supports Austin’s zero waste goal. It requires multifamily property owners to ensure that residents and employees have access to recycling. The goal of the ordinance is to increase the life of local landfills, reduce harmful environmental impacts and encourage economic development.

Who is responsible?

The property owner and manager are responsible. Usually it is the person who manages the contract for trash and recycling services.

What do I need to do?

1. Submit a recycling plan

You must submit a recycling plan every year starting October 1. This plan is a report of how the property meets the recycling requirements below. You will need these items to fill out your recycling plan:

  • A recent receipt from your hauler(s) with:
    • The size of your containers
    • How often your landfill and recycling containers are picked up
  • A letter or email from Austin Resource Recovery with your Real Property ID.

Blue button: Submit Recycling Plan

2. Offer recycling

Multifamily properties are required to provide sufficient recycling capacity for their residents.

  • Recycling service must include five materials (paper, cardboard, metal, glass and hard plastics) through single stream or recycled separately.
  • Preventing landfill trash by reusing, repurposing or donating items could also help you meet this requirement.

Capacity requirements starting October 1, 2020

Multifamily recycling requirements changed, starting October 1, 2020, to: 

  • 24 gallons of recycling per unit, per week or
  • equal capacity for recycling and landfill trash

Use the capacity calculator to determine if you meet the new requirement

3. Provide convenient access

  • You must provide enough recycling capacity to avoid overflow at convenient locations for residents and employees.
  • Place outdoor recycling containers within 25 feet of a landfill trash container.
  • If needed, contact your licensed hauler to move the containers at your property.

Image of trash and recycling dumpsters with an arrow in between and text, "no more than 25 feet apart"

4. Educate residents and employees  

Teach residents and employees about what is recyclable:

  • Within 30 days of employee hire, resident move-in and every year after.
  • Notify employees and residents of any significant changes to your recycling service within 30 days of change.
  • Provide bilingual education (English and Spanish) in person, online or through printed materials.
    • Provide your residents with a bilingual recycling brochure that has tips for apartment recycling and shows residents what is recyclable. 
    • You can also copy and paste this letter and email template to help your residents tell containers apart and decrease the risk of contamination at your property.

5. Post signs 

  • Post bilingual signs on or near all landfill and recycling stations and containers. The licensed hauler providing service at the property should also have signs, labels or educational material available for use. Contact your licensed hauler to add signs to their outdoor containers on your property.
  • Print free recycling posters in English and Spanish,​ French, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean or Arabic.
  • Make your own signs by choosing which items are frequently disposed of at your property.

Additional resources

If you choose to also provide your residents with access to composting, download and display this sign.

Downtown properties

Is your multifamily property downtown on Congress or 6th Street? If so, you may receive downtown district service from the City of Austin. If your property is located in this area:

  • You do not have to fill out a recycling plan. 
  • If you have a food permit, you are still required to fill out an organics plan.  

Violations of the Universal Recycling Ordinance (Austin City Code Chapter 15-6) are a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $2,000 per day, per offense. Email us or call 512-974-9727 for free information, guidance and resources.