The Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO) supports Austin’s Zero Waste goal. It requires commercial properties to ensure that residents and employees have convenient access to recycling. The goal of the ordinance is to increase the life of local landfills, reduce harmful environmental impacts and encourage economic development.

Who is responsible?

The property owner and business manager are responsible for meeting these recycling requirements  Usually it is the person who manages the contract for trash and recycling services.

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 your commercial property meets the recycling requirements below. You will need these items to fill out your recycling plan:

  • A recent receipt or contract from your hauler(s) with:
    • The size of your containers
    • How often your landfill and recycling containers are picked up
  • A letter or email from Austin Resource Recovery with your Real Property ID.

Blue button: Submit Recycling Plan If you have an active food permit, you also need to fill out an organics plan.

2. Offer recycling

You must provide sufficient recycling capacity for employees.

  • Recycling capacity must be equal to or greater than your total on-site landfill trash capacity.
  • Recycling service must include five materials (paper, cardboard, metal, glass and hard plastics) through single stream or recycled separately.
  • Preventing landfill trash by reusing, repurposing or donating items could also help you meet this requirement.

To get started, download a tip sheet for contracting hauler services and find a hauler using our licensed hauler directory.

If you are interested in expanding your zero waste program beyond the minimum requirements, consider applying for the Zero Waste Business Rebate.

3. Provide convenient access

  • You must provide recycling at convenient locations for employees.
  • All outdoor recycling containers must be located within 25 feet of landfill trash containers.
  • If needed, contact your licensed hauler to move the containers at your property.

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

4. Educate employees

You must:

  • Teach employees about what is recyclable within 30 days of employee hire and every year after.
  • Notify employees of any significant changes to your recycling service within 30 days of change.
  • Provide bilingual education (English and Spanish) in person, online or through printed materials.

Download bilingual handouts about recycling and reuse in the workplace. These templates can be customized to include workplace specific materials and challenges to share with employees. Your licensed hauler may also have educational material available for use.

5. Post signs

You must post bilingual signs on or near all landfill and recycling stations and containers.

  • Contact your licensed hauler to add signs to their outdoor containers on your property.
  • Print free interior recycling posters in English and SpanishFrenchMandarinVietnameseKorean or Arabic.
  • Make your own signs by choosing items that are frequently disposed of at your property:

Additional resources

If you also provide access to composting, download and display this sign.

Learn about requirements for properties downtown

If your commercial property downtown near Congress or 6th Street, you may receive Downtown District Service from the City of Austin. If your property is located in this area and: ·

  • You have a food permit, you are required to fill out an organics plan.
  • You do not have to fill out a recycling plan.

Violations of the URO (Austin City Code Chapter 15-6) are a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $2,000 per day, per offense. For free information, guidance and resources email us or call 512-974-9727.