Austin restaurants face a new food waste rule that bans them from throwing out any food and now requires them to either donate leftovers to those in need or compost the garbage, according to an ordinance that took effect Monday, KXAN reported.
The initiative forms part of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance, which was created to help the Texas city achieve its Zero Waste 2040 goal.
The ordinance will prevent discarded organic material, such as food scraps and soiled paper products, from entering landfill sites and instead redirect them back into the community as recyclables.
The City of Austin recommended that restaurants preferably donate extra food to help feed those in need but if this is not possible, they can also send food scraps to local animal farms or develop their own solutions such as composting.
“The City is committed to helping companies, large and small, find cost-effective solutions and establish diversion programs to ensure food and other organics are put to best use while meeting ordinance requirements,” said Sam Angoori, Interim Director, Austin Resource Recovery.
Additionally, businesses are required to provide regular training to employees, submit an annual Organic Diversion Plan to the city and post information signage.
The ordinance follows a 2015 Diversion Study that found about 85 percent of Austin’s trash came from commercial businesses, restaurants and eateries. Thirty-seven percent of the material sent to landfill could have been donated or composted.
Don “Skeeter” Miller, co-owner of County Line restaurants and president of the Greater Austin Restaurant Association, was initially skeptical of the idea of composting but said that many local businesses have since embraced the idea, according to the Austin Statesman.
“The kids at my restaurant, they’re into it,” he said. “The customers don’t throw stuff into the right container right now. But we know that’s going to change, and want to do it the right way.”
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