The City of Austin requires commercial property owners and business managers 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 starting October 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.

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 and recycling collection service, you are required to group them 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 

  • Recycling dumpsters and carts must feature the chasing arrows recycling symbol.
  • All outdoor dumpsters, carts and collection points must:
    • Be labeled with the type of waste stream.
    • List of which materials are accepted in the container.
    • Be written in both English and Spanish.
  • Post indoor signs in common areas on your property.
    • Make your own signs by choosing which items are frequently disposed of at your property: 
      Sign maker thumbnail
    • If you provide composting, you can find free posters in English and Spanish:
      "Compost poster"

5. Educate employees and commercial tenants 

Provide education to employees and commercial tenants that:

  • Shows what materials are accepted in landfill, recycling and/or organics containers;
  • Shows where all landfill, recycling and/or organics containers are located;
  • Is provided in print or electronically and written in 2 languages;
  • Is provided within 30 days of hire or move-in, each year and when there are program changes; and
  • Document when you provide education to your employees and commercial tenants.

To meet this requirement:

  • Download the letter and email template for commercial and edit to reflect the recycling requirements at your property.  
  • Create a map of your outdoor landfill trash, recycling, and/or organics containers. See sample map. Share with your employees and commercial tenants.
  • Print the recycling sign or create your own to post near all indoor recycling bins and outdoor containers.
  • Document when you educate your employees and commercial tenants about the landfill trash, recycling, and/or organics services at your property:
    • Download the sample training log to set a regular training schedule.
    • Download the sample attendance log or start archiving your educational emails to document attendance.

Check out our commercial recycling video playlist to learn more:

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.  

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.