The Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) values sustainability and resiliency and works hard to maintain our park spaces clean and inviting for Austinites and our visitors.  We aim to minimize waste generation through source reduction, recycling or composting in order to both reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill, as well as reduce costs for disposal of trash.  Our goal is to ensure that our parks and facilities are compliant with Universal Recycling Ordinance guidelines and our own City of Austin Zero Waste Goals and standards.  


In 2018, the Zero Waste Advisory Commission and the Parks and Recreation Board urged City Council to create a Parks and Recreation Recycling Task Force (Resolution 20180614-072), and based on those recommendations, the subsequent FY19 City budget included more than $1 million for expanding recycling to parks citywide.  The Recycling Program Manager was hired in June 2019 to implement comprehensive recycling and composting standards at all PARD indoor and outdoor facilities to meet Zero Waste goals.  In September 2019, City Council awarded bids for the purchase and installation of updated receptacles at parks.

Phase I:  Aquatics, Athletic Complexes, Metropolitan Parks and Golf Courses.  Phase II:  District Parks; Phase III:  Neighborhood Parks and Remaining Park Facilities.

Progress to Date

The Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is currently in Phase III of the Recycling Implementation Plan (the final phase) which focuses on Neighborhood Parks and greenbelt trailheads.  Recycling receptacles were added to Metropolitan Parks, Aquatics sites, Athletics sites, and Golf Courses in Phase I, and to District Parks in Phase II.  Receptacles are installed as 1:1 pairs with landfill trash and recycling units side by side, have matching lids, and are recycled plastic with slat labels in English and Spanish.  A contractor has installed 683 pairs of receptacles as of November 2022, and PARD staff have installed an additional 98 pairs of receptacles on existing concrete.  The Department is 35% of the way through Phase III recycling receptacle installations and expects to complete this phase by 2023.  The goal is for the majority of pocket parks to become “Pack It In, Pack It Out” sites, with exceptions made for pocket parks with amenities such as picnic pavilions or playscapes.

Image of recycling receptacles

Image of recycling receptacles

The Recycling Program also includes other initiatives such as a materials reuse group, composting training for staff, guidance for recycling difficult items, and initial coordination with volunteer groups for litter cleanup workdays to connect to Parknerships Program.  Suggestions for improvement and other ideas for sustainable initiatives are always welcome.