The City of Austin offers a Zero Waste Business Rebate that is available only to affected premises described in Section 15-6-91 of the City Code. To receive the rebate, the affected premises must meet the Zero Waste Business Rebate eligibility requirements and must otherwise comply with these rules, terms and conditions.


1. Who is eligible to apply for a Zero Waste Business Rebate?

A person who is a responsible party for an affected premises that is required to comply with Chapter 15-6, Article 5 (Universal Recycling) of the City Code and meets the application requirements described in these rules, terms and conditions. 

The following responsible parties are eligible to apply for the Zero Waste Business Rebate: 

  • The owner of an affected premises or an employee of the owner; 
  • The manager of an affected premises or an employee of the manager; or 
  • A tenant or lessee on an affected premises, except for a tenant or lessee of a multifamily residence, who contracts or arranges with a hauler for solid waste service or who self-hauls. (Such a tenant or lessee can apply only on behalf of the portion of the affected premises over which the tenant or lessee has care, custody, control, or possession.) 

Applicants are not eligible to receive rebate if they are applying for an affected premises that is leasing City of Austin property or the applicant has a contract to provide services to or at a City of Austin property.  

Applications will be accepted from October 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022. Site visits must be conducted by August 1, 2022. No applications will be accepted after July 1, 2022. 

2. How is the rebate amount determined?

An applicant approved to use the  following options may receive up to $3,000 per fiscal year from the Zero Waste Business Program:

  • Expand Food Rescue program infrastructure at an affected premises in Section 15-6-91 that distributes food directly to persons earning 50% or less of the Median Family Income (MFI) in Austin
  • Start or expand an organics diversion program at an affected premises

An applicant approved to use the following options may receive a rebate of up to $1,800 per fiscal year from the Zero Waste Business Rebate program:

  • Eliminate or replace single-use, harmful or unnecessary plastics and polystyrene foam content items at an affected premises and switch to more sustainable options
  • Equipment to increase recycling for residents at multifamily properties

The rebate is only available to one affected premises per owner or property management company per fiscal year. Applicants previously awarded the Zero Waste Business Rebate are not eligible to use funding for equipment or services previously reimbursed by the Zero Waste Business Rebate.

Rebate funds are not guaranteed. The rebate is available on a first-come, first-served basis and there is a limited amount of funding available for each category of eligible expenses. There is no reservation or rain-check system. 

3. How does an eligible affected premises apply for and receive the Zero Waste Business Rebate?

  1. A person (“the applicant”) may apply on behalf of an eligible affected premises by submitting the Zero Waste Business Rebate application and a signed copy of these rules, terms and conditions. To receive reimbursement, the affected premises must incur expenses only AFTER the City approves and signs its application and confirms rebate eligibility via e-mail. Any expenses incurred beforehand will NOT be eligible for reimbursement. 
  2. Once the City approves a rebate application, the affected premises can incur eligible expenses. To receive reimbursement, the applicant must submit itemized invoices for materials purchased or collection services received. The applicant must certify in writing that all invoices submitted are authentic and/or true and correct statements of the expenses incurred by the affected premises as part of the Zero Waste Business Rebate program. 
  3. The applicant must register the affected premises as a City of Austin vendor and provide a Vendor ID Number and payment address to be reimbursed. 
  4. The applicant must also submit any other documentation required for the relevant category of eligible expenses, as described in Section 4 of these rules, terms, and conditions. 
  5. The applicant or another person acting on behalf of the affected premises must complete all City staff surveys, and must complete an exit interview survey within six months of receiving final payment of the rebate funds from the City. 

4. What are eligible expenses that can be reimbursed by the rebate, and how does an applicant show proof of the eligible expenses?

By signing these rules, terms and conditions, the applicant acknowledges that the City, in its sole discretion, determines what an eligible expense is. The following services constitute eligible expenses for the Zero Waste Business Rebate:

A) Expand food rescue program infrastructure at an affected premises in Section 15-6-91 that distributes food directly to persons earning 50% or less of the Median Family Income (MFI) in Austin or directly to a charitable feeding organization as defined in City Code Section 10-3-100Applicant must show that new infrastructure would result in the highest and better use of food.  

Applicant must:

  • Provide evidence that the organization distributes food to persons earning 50% or less of MFI in Austin or directly to a charitable feeding organization; and 
  • If an applicant is a food enterprise under City Code Section 10-3-61 (Permit Required), the applicant must provide evidence that an additional method of landfill diversion for organic material (that complies with the standards of City Code Chapter 15-6, Article 5 (Universal Recycling)) is available at the affected premises. 
  • Provide evidence that 1) food rescue will be expanded from the purchase of new infrastructure and 2) that the sole purpose of the infrastructure will be for food rescue. Food rescue means diverting quality food from disposal and making it available for human consumption, with the goal of alleviating hunger in our community, preventing food waste, and ensuring that quality food is not unnecessarily disposed of.

Rebate may be used to purchase the following:

  • Cold food storage that prolongs the life of edible food (up to $1,800 per affected premises).
  • Food safety transportation equipment including refrigerated or hot food insulated transporters, coolers, and other resources necessary to safely transport and distribute food to be reviewed by ARR staff (up to $1,800 per eligible affected premises). 
  • Developing or improving non-perishable food storage space, including shelves and racks (up to $1,800 per eligible affected premises).  

B) Eliminate or replace single-use, harmful, or unnecessary plastics and polystyrene foam content with compostable or reusable options. 

Applicant must:

  • Provide a receipt for the purchase of single-use, harmful, or unnecessary plastics as indicated by the US Plastics Pact within the six (6) months prior to rebate application date. The receipt shall verify the existing distribution of single-use plastic, harmful or unnecessary plastics, and polystyrene foam content items at the affected premises seeking the rebate. 
  • If seeking the rebate for compostable products, demonstrate that a composting program is currently in place for the affected premises, or proof that a composting program will be implemented within 30 days of the time the rebate application is approved. The affected premises must also submit proof that a composting program has been in place for the affected property for three (3) months after the date of the rebate approval. All proof can be shown by submitting at least one of the following:  
    • An electronic or hard copy of a new contract demonstrating that the applicant is in the process of setting up commercial organics service with start date within 30 days of rebate approval. Service must be provided through a licensed private hauler. 
    • An electronic or hard copy of an ongoing contract demonstrating that the applicant has commercial organics services provided through a licensed private hauler. 
    • Electronic or hard copies of receipts demonstrating that responsible parties for the affected premises regularly self-haul compost to a licensed composting facility; or 
    • Documentation or an ARR staff site visit to demonstrate that there is an active onsite compost program at the affected premises.  
  • If seeking a rebate for two or more options below, applicant can receive up to $1,800 total. If seeking a rebate for only one option below excluding reusable products), applicant can receive up to $1,000 total. 

Rebate may be used to purchase the following: 

  • Replacing single-use plastic bags with 100% paper, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-labeled paper bags, or reusable canvas bags or bags that are similar in make and material. Reusable options are to be distributed at no cost to customers (up to $1,000). 
  • Replacing food packaging made from single-use plastic, polystyrene foam, identified by the US Plastic Pact as a harmful or unnecessary with a compostable or reusable replacement including but not limited to plates, cups, straws, lids, and clamshells (up to $1,000). Compostable packaging must be non-waxed lined paper or cardboard.

C) Start or expand an organics diversion program at an affected commercial or multifamily premises. 

Applicant must:

  • Provide evidence that an additional method of landfill diversion for organic material (that complies with the standards of City Code Chapter 15-6, Article 5 (Universal Recycling)) is available at the affected premises. 
  • Not be an eligible property to be serviced by ARR’s organic curbside program 
  • If seeking funding for commercial hauling, provide an electronic or hard copy of a contract for at least six months of commercial organics diversion service. Service must be provided through a licensed private hauler. 
  • If seeking this option as a food enterprise under Section 10-3-61 (Permit Required), applicant must be donating food to people and adding a compost program as a second food diversion option.  

Rebate may be used to purchase the following: 

  • Indoor collection containers such as break room composting (up to $200 per eligible affected premises). 
  • Purchase of BPI-certified compostable can liners (up to $150). 
  • Reimbursement for up to six months of commercial organic service (up to $1,800). 
  • Hauler start-up fee (a one-time fee) (up to $75). 
  • Pouring a new concrete slab, to accommodate cart or dumpster capacity. (Please note that approval of a rebate application does not guarantee or imply approval of any associated site plan or a site plan exemption during the permitting process.) Provide electronic or hard copy receipts for construction materials and labor (up to $1,800). 
  • Building a new enclosure/structure to house the new organics carts/containers. Provide electronic or hard copy receipts for construction materials and labor (up to $1,800). 

D)  Equipment to increase recycling for residents at multifamily properties.  

Applicant must:

  • Provide single-stream recycling for employees and residents.  
  • Meet URO capacity requirements without the inclusion of additional equipment funded by the Zero Waste Business Rebate.  

Rebate may be used to purchase and use the following:

  • Indoor recycling containers that are distributed to residents at no cost. Containers must be blue and have the chasing arrow recycling symbol. The cost of the containers may not exceed $20 per dwelling unit (up to $1,800).  

5. What are NOT eligible expenses that may be reimbursed by the rebate?

  • Costs for providing the minimum onsite recycling and organics diversion services that Chapter 15-6 of the City Code requires the affected premises to provide. 
  • Other costs for complying with the City Code. 
  • Taxes, deposits, payment for employee training time, payment of City utility bills, service provider late payment fees, service provider contamination fees, or any other purpose not expressly allowed under these rules, terms and conditions. 
  • Costs that exceed the approved rebate amount. The applicant or applicant’s representative is responsible for all costs that exceed the approved amount of the rebate. 

6. What can DISQUALIFY an affected premises from receiving reimbursement under the Zero Waste Business Rebate program?

  • Failure to provide itemized invoices to verify that expenses are eligible for reimbursement;
  • Violation of the City of Austin Code, City regulations, state or federal law, or the rules, terms, and conditions of this program; or
  • Failure to pay taxes as required by the City Charter, Article VIII § 1 (Taxes—Arrears of Offset to Debt Against City). 

7. What happens if an affected premises is DISQUALIFIED from participation in the Zero Waste Business Rebate Program?

If the applicant is disqualified before the City provides rebate funds, the City will not provide any rebate funds. If the applicant is disqualified after the City has paid rebate funds, then the applicant agrees to repay the City for the full amount of the rebate funds received. The applicant shall repay the funds within three (3) months of the date on which the City notifies the entity of disqualification. 

BY SIGNING THESE RULES, TERMS, AND CONDITIONS, THE APPLICANT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT THE AFFECTED PREMISES SHALL BE LIABLE FOR REPAYMENT IF THE PREMISES FAILS TO TIMELY REPAY THE FUNDS FOLLOWING DISQUALIFICATION FROM THE ZERO WASTE BUSINESS REBATE PROGRAM. 

8. Additional terms and conditions

  • The applicant understands that the City may amend or terminate the Zero Waste Business Rebate Program without notice, and understands that the receipt of rebate funds is contingent upon whether the applicant meets all program requirements and is not disqualified from the program. 
  • The applicant understands that the City is not a party to any contract between the applicant and any third-party vendors or service providers. The applicant acknowledges that the City will not intervene in the event of a dispute with a third party. 

9. Waiver of liability

I AGREE TO HOLD HARMLESS THE CITY OF AUSTIN, ITS EMPLOYEES, OFFICIALS AND CONTRACTORS FROM ANY AND ALL CLAIMS ARISING FROM MY PARTICIPATION IN THE ZERO WASTE BUSINESS REBATE PROGRAM. I FURTHER RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IS NOT A CONTRACT OR DEBT OF THE CITY.