The City of Austin will require commercial composting collection at all multifamily properties starting October 1, 2024. The Austin City Council approved the amendment to the Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) on Thursday, September 21, 2023.

Multifamily properties with five or more dwelling units will be required to provide tenants and employees with convenient access to commercial composting services. Multifamily properties, which can include apartments, condos, dorms, assisted living facilities and nursing homes, will have one year to comply.  

Composting at multifamily properties will help Austin move closer to zero waste. A 2015 Community Diversion Study found that 85% of material generated in Austin came from commercial businesses and multifamily properties and that 37% of that material was compostable. 

Requirements

Multifamily properties will need to meet updated URO requirements for composting. Many of the requirements match existing multifamily recycling requirements.  

  1. Submit a plan each year between October 1 and February 1. 
  2. Offer one gallon of composting capacity per unit, with no overflowing containers. 
  • Properties can use large, shared containers to meet capacity requirements. 
  • The new rules require access to composting services, where compostables are collected at the property and processed at a composting facility. 
  • Composting will be picked up from your property at least once a week. 
  1. Accept certain materials for composting including food scraps, food-soiled paper and BPI-certified compostable products.  
  2. Provide convenient access. 
  3. Post signs and labels on all composting containers in at least two languages. 
  4. Provide educational resources to residents and employees in at least two languages. 

Get a rebate to start your composting program

Up to $3,000 in rebates are available to eligible properties to start or expand composting service before the requirement goes into effect. Properties must have their recycling plan completed prior to applying for the Zero Waste Business Rebate. Expenses could include indoor collection bins, compostable bags and monthly hauling service until the new composting rules go into effect. Applicants must apply and be approved for the rebate before starting service or making a purchase. Applications must be submitted before July 1, 2024.

Stakeholder Engagement

Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) completed stakeholder engagement before City Council approved the new multifamily composting rules. Stakeholders included apartment managers, multifamily residents, private haulers and non-profits.

ARR conducted a pilot program between March 2021 and February 2022 to test organics collection at multifamily communities and gather information to inform policy discussions. This pilot helped the City understand the unique challenges faced by multifamily properties in Austin and allowed participating properties to test composting collection in their communities. 
 
ARR staff led five stakeholder meetings between October 2022 and May 2023 and opened three online surveys to collect feedback on priorities and draft policy language. Based on stakeholder feedback, ARR staff developed recommended language for the amended Code and Administrative Rules.