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A New Law In Austin Requires Restaurants To Go Zero-Waste

By Koty Neelis

Restaurants in Austin can't throw away food anymore. A new law starting this month requires restaurants to compost food scraps or give them away, as part of the city's Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) that aims to make the southern city more sustainable.

As part of Texas’ Zero Waste by 2040 pledge, all food enterprises (which includes restaurants, shops, and farm markets that serve made-to-order food, as well as places that prepare and process food) will need to use alternatives from sending organic materials to landfills. The measure also requires that employees receive training about handling the waste. 

The ordinance doesn't solely apply to food and food scraps but also includes dirty or used paper like cardboard, paper towels and napkins; flowers, and landscape trimmings (from restaurants' plants and gardens). Those who don’t follow the rules will be fined anywhere between $100 to $2,000 by the Austin Code Department.