The City of Austin requires property owners and business managers of commercial/ mixed use properties to ensure that their employees and commercial tenants have convenient access to recycling.

Who is responsible?

The property owners and business managers are responsible for meeting these recycling requirements. Typically, the person who oversees the contract for landfill trash and recycling submits the recycling plan.

What do I need to do?

1. Submit a recycling plan

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

  • An invoice or contract receipt from your licensed hauler(s) with:
    • The size, number and location of your outdoor landfill trash and recycling dumpsters or carts.
    • How often your landfill and recycling dumpsters or carts are picked up.
  • Your property ID from your previous records or a letter/email from Austin Resource Recovery.
  • Information about how and when you educate your commercial tenants and employees on your recycling program.
  • Placement of indoor and outdoor recycling containers and signs at your business.

Blue button: Submit Recycling Plan

2. Offer recycling

Commercial property owners and business managers are required to provide sufficient recycling capacity to their commercial tenants and employees:

  • Provide single-stream recycling, which allows these five materials to be put into one container: paper, cardboard, metal, glass and hard plastics.
  • Provide equal or greater capacity for recycling than landfill trash.
    • Organics diversion programs could also help meet this requirement.
    • Preventing landfill trash by reusing, repurposing or donating items could also help you meet this requirement.

3. Provide convenient access

  • All outdoor recycling dumpsters and carts must be 25 feet or less from all landfill trash dumpsters and carts.
    • If needed, contact your licensed hauler to move the dumpsters at your property.
  • If you provide indoor landfill trash bins in common areas, you must also provide recycling bins. You are required to group the bins together and label them in at least two languages.

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

4. Post signs

  • All signs must:
    • Be labeled with the type of waste stream.
    • List which materials are accepted in the container.
    • Provide information in at least two languages.
  • All outdoor dumpsters, carts and collection points must have signs on them. The signs at the recycling collection points must feature the chasing arrows recycling symbol.
    • Contact your licensed hauler if they need to add landfill, or recycling, or organics decals to their outdoor containers. 
  • All indoor bins must have signs on or near them, ideally at eye level. Landfill trash, recycling and organics bins must be grouped together. 
    • Recycling bins must be provided in common areas where landfill trash bins are provided.

Get free recycling signs

5. Provide educational resources to your residents and employees

These items must be provided in print or electronically in two languages; within thirty days of hire or move-in, when the program changes and every year.

Create educational resources about the landfill trash, recycling and organics services at your property

Document when you provide the educational resources

  • Download and edit the sample training log to set a regular training schedule.
  • Download and edit the sample attendance log or start archiving your educational emails to document attendance.

Check out our commercial recycling diversion videos

Screenshot of commercial recycling playlist on YouTube

What if I have a food permit through the City of Austin?

If you have a food permit, you are also required to fill out an organics plan.  

What if my business is struggling to meet the requirements? 

You will be granted the opportunity to request a waiver when you complete your required plan. 

If your business is struggling to meet the capacity requirement, consider hiring an auditor to complete a waste audit or characterization study. A waste auditor sorts and quantifies the types and amounts of waste your business generates and creates a report with the results. Some auditors will also review your purchasing practices and provide recommendations on how to increase your diversion rate. You may be able to use this report to show why your business is unable to meet the capacity requirement due to the types of waste your business generates. Ask your current recycling hauler if they offer audit services or contact a qualified waste auditor:

Inclusion on this list is voluntary and provided without endorsement. Other service providers may be available. To add, delete, or correct listings, please email us.

The Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) supports Austin’s zero waste goal. The goal of the ordinance is to increase the life of local landfills, reduce harmful environmental impacts and encourage economic development.

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.