Brownfields can be redeveloped into community assets that support the health or character of a neighborhood. Redeveloping brownfields also:
Ask yourself: Is the property idle, vacant, or less productive than it ought to be? Does the site have issues with vandalism, broken or boarded up windows or illegal dumping? Could some unseen environmental contamination be contributing to the problem? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the site may be a brownfield property.
Common examples are abandoned gas stations, dry cleaners, industrial properties, strip malls, and commercial properties where chemicals have been used, transported or stored.
The Brownfields Revitalization Program provides several key benefits including:
The U.S. EPA, with certain legal exclusions and additions, defines the term "Brownfield Site" to mean real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
Greenfields are areas of land that have not previously been developed, such as woodlands, farmlands, or fields – typically on the outskirts of urban areas. Companies often prefer developing greenfields to avoid the complications involved with brownfields specifically and, in general, with development in urban areas. Extensive development of greenfields particularly combined with underdeveloped brownfields and other infill properties can intensify problems of urban sprawl.
A Phase II is a second-stage ESA done to confirm the presence or absence of recognized environmental conditions that may have been identified during the Phase I. The Phase II generally includes the collection and analysis of soil, sediment, groundwater, or surface water samples. The Phase II report often makes recommendations for further assessment or cleanup.
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an initial assessment that is usually associated with a property transfer. A Phase I involves a review of ownership records and historical uses of the property, a site visit, and interviews, in order to identify any recognized environmental conditions that could have resulted in potential releases of hazardous substances to the environment. Many lending institutions require these Phase I ESAs to help ensure that they are not financing a contaminated site for which they may be held liable. The industry-accepted procedure for a Phase I ESA is published by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International, and is available at a charge through their website.
Brownfields are everywhere. They exist in urban, suburban or rural areas, industrial or commercial districts, or adjacent to residential areas.
Please contact the Brownfields Revitalization Office at (512) 974-6085 or call 3-1-1 to report the property.
A variety of public sector organizations may potentially play a role in the course of cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields sites. Not all of these organizations will be involved at every site. Key players include: The City of Austin, citizen and community groups, commercial lenders, technical consultants, local government agencies, developers, local community development corporations and state environmental agencies.
The contractor working on a project with several permits has several reporting options. A report is required for each affected permit; however, the contractor can combine information from several affected permits into one report. To do so, the contractor will enter information for all of the permits in one online report.
The ordinance specifically exempts Special Waste and Hazardous Material, including asbestos-containing material and lead-containing material. Contractors should ensure those materials are handled in accordance with appropriate local and state regulations.
Reports are not required for the unaffected permits; however, the contractor may find that including information for the unaffected permits is simpler. This may be the case, for example, when the private hauler’s reports don’t distinguish between debris from affected and unaffected permits. A contractor that reports tons of materials from the entire project should include the permit numbers and floor areas for the unaffected permits in the report as well.
Affected projects that are unable to meet the requirements of the ordinance because of the nature of the debris can request a waiver. In that case, the online report will prompt the contractor to provide the following information:
Usually, your private haulers will provide summaries of the loads of construction debris removed from the jobsite. These summaries will list for each load of debris the date, ticket number, and weights of material landfilled or diverted from the landfill.
If a Qualified Processor sorted commingled construction debris from the project, the Qualified Processor will provide a summary report of the total tons processed and the facility’s average diversion rate.
If you have weight tickets but no summary, download this spreadsheet and enter the weight ticket information to develop your own summary.
The report is normally due when a contractor requests the Final Inspection. For projects with multiple permits, a contractor usually requests separate Final Inspections for each permit. In that case, before requesting the first Final Inspection, the contractor should save (but not submit) a report with all the permit numbers. That way, the Report will be due when the contractor requests the Final Inspection for the last permit.
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide rebates on home-built composters. At this time, we do not have an efficient way of determining how those materials are being used. We hope to be able to include them in future rebate programs.
Yes, as long as it was purchased after April 22, 2010 and you have a copy of the receipt.
Austin Resource Recovery customers who pay the Clean Community Fee on their monthly utility bills are eligible.
For the Go Anywhere plan, a check will be mailed to the address specified on your rebate application. Please allow 8 weeks for processing.
For the Go Local Plan, your voucher will be mailed to you within two weeks of receiving the application.
Purchase any type of home composting system that will satisfy the needs of your household. Please consider buying locally and/or recycled content.
You can mail your application and necessary information to:
ATTN: Composting Rebate Program
City of Austin-Austin Resource Recovery
P.O. Box 1088
Austin, TX 78767
You can also email your application and receipt.
We accept passenger car tires. Visit austintexas.gov/dropoff for the current fees.
Most Recycle & Reuse Drop-Off Center services are free to Austin residents, but some services have a fee. Visit austintexas.gov/dropoff for details about each item type.
Electronics are complex devices, which are made of a wide variety of materials. Some of the materials, such as lead, nickel, cadmium and mercury, could pose risks to human health or the environment if disposed of incorrectly.
Here are the lists of items that are and are not accepted at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-Off Center.
Large hard plastic items
Cellphones and computers do not need to be wiped of data before drop-off; they will be stored securely and destroyed.
You can leave batteries inside your electronics.
Electronics are made from valuable resources, such as precious metals, copper and engineered plastics, all of which require considerable energy to process and manufacture. Recycling electronics recovers valuable materials and as a result, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution, save energy, and save resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth.
Yes. However, our facilities are only able to accept a certain quantity. Please contact us before dropping off your items. If your items exceed our capabilities, our staff will direct you to another certified to company to recycle your electronics.
We cannot accept:
Remember to remove all metal components from hard plastics before recycling them.
You cannot recycle plastic bags, films and wrappers in your blue cart. We process recyclables at two local recycling processing facilities that use automated systems to sort and bale the recyclables. Prohibited items, like plastic bags, jam the automated machinery.
Take plastic shopping bags to your local grocery stores or to the Recycle & Reuse Drop-Off Center to be recycled.
Rinse recyclables to remove food residue
Dry paper before putting it in your cart
Flatten boxboard and corrugated cardboard
Remove any metal components from plastic items.
Note: Do not place recyclables in a plastic bag. Plastic bags are not accepted in our curbside recycling program and contribute to contamination.
Austin Resource Recovery curbside customers may continue to set out large rigid plastics during twice-per-year bulk item collection. These items are currently taken to the landfill, but Austin Resource Recovery is exploring ways to recover and recycle these items in the future.
One way to use less water is to rinse your recyclables in the water used to clean dishes. Some people even put a pitcher in their bathtub to catch the water from their shower as it heats up.
After collection, recyclables go to two local materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to be sorted and prepared for market. Many of these will become the same product in what is known as closed-loop recycling. For example, glass, aluminum, and steel can be used to make new bottles or cans. Many fibers, such as those from cardboard, are used to make new boxes. And most common household items contain some recycled materials. For example, recycled plastics are turned into new bottles, but they can also be made into carpeting, park benches, and fibers for clothing. The Keep America Beautiful website provides more detail about the recycling process.
Recycling keeps reusable items out of the landfills, which in turn offers many benefits:
Use the What Do I Do With? tool to find out how to dispose of different materials.
Below is a brief description of the symbols. For more detailed information, visit the resin identification codes page of the American Chemistry Council Web site.
After recyclables are collected, they are transported to two local Materials Recovery Facilities and then are sorted and baled before being sold to manufacturers to create new products.
When incorrect items are recycled it is called contamination. Putting the wrong items in your blue cart can disrupt the recycling process and cause safety hazards.
For example, plastic bags, garden hoses and wire hangers get tangled in machinery and halt production. Broken glass is a safety hazard for collection crews and MRF employees. Plastic foam breaks up during processing and ends up as small pieces contaminating paper, aluminum and other recyclables.
After collection, Austin Resource Recovery staff takes recyclables to two local Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) for processing. The staff at each MRF does their best to sort everything correctly, however contaminated materials still sometimes find their way through the system, often at the expense of the MRF operator and the City.
If you cannot fit all of your recyclables in your cart, you may place additional items in a cardboard box or a reusable container. If you have excess cardboard, please cut or fold the cardboard into 2 feet by 2 feet piles, and tie them into manageable bundles with string or twine. Place the bundles next to your recycling cart. Extra recyclables will be picked up at no extra change.
To make more room in your cart, crush recyclables like cans, plastic jugs and bottles. Be sure to "break down" or flatten boxboard and corrugated cardboard so that it fits more easily into the cart.
If you frequently run out of room in your recycling cart between pickups, you can request an additional blue cart free of charge by calling Austin Energy at 512-494-9400.
Why we can't take these items
The recycling processing facility uses an automated system to sort and bale the recyclables. Prohibited items will jam the automated machinery.
Austin Resource Recovery collects trash from almost 30,000 homes each day. Occasionally, crews miss a house. Sometimes the crews are not able to collect the material safely or a road hazard or blockage may prevent access. If there is a problem with the material that prevents collection, a notice will be left behind to let you know the problem.
If you haven’t received a notice and you placed the material at the curb by 6:30 a.m. on your collection day:
Vendors and manufacturers that buy so-called “mixed rigid plastics” prefer to receive plastics without metal components. Plastics that contain metal are considered contaminants and a lower value.
Dirty recyclables can contaminate other recyclables. Dirty items do not have as much value as clean recyclables and sometimes cannot be sold to manufacturers to become new products. These items can end up going to the landfill. This leads to higher expenses for the operators of the recycling facilities, as well as the City. Also, recyclables that have food residue on them can cause odors and attract pests in your recycling cart.
Most of our trucks are equipped with automatic arms that pick up the carts. Our crews can collect materials more safely and efficiently if all the recyclables fit into the cart, preventing drivers from getting out of the truck. If you have items that don’t fit in the cart, either break them down, or set them out during bulk item collection.
Single Stream Recycling allows Austin Resource Recovery customers to mix recyclable paper, plastic, aluminum cans and glass in one bin. This method of curbside recycling is more convenient for residents because it does not requires sorting of items. Other advantages include:
Yes! We offer four trash cart sizes; 96-gallon, 64-gallon, 32-gallon and 24-gallon.
Call Austin Resource Recovery at 3-1-1. We will come by to pick up the missed material as soon as possible.
Use the What Do I Do With? app to find out how to dispose of different materials.
Extra bags of trash that do not fit in your trash cart with the lid closed must be placed next to the trash cart and tagged with an Extra Trash Sticker, which can be purchased at most local grocery stores for $4+ tax. Extra bags without a sticker will be charge a per-bag fee of $9.60+ tax.
The Universal Recycling Ordinance (referred to throughout the FAQ’s as “URO” or “the Ordinance”) supports Austin’s Zero Waste goal by requiring affected property owners to ensure that tenants and employees have access to convenient recycling. The Ordinance is intended to increase the life of local landfills, reduce harmful environmental impacts, and encourage economic development.
The Ordinance requires property owners, or their designees, to ensure the following:
|Recycling services for plastics #1 & #2, paper, cardboard, glass and aluminum||Sufficient capacity and convenient location||Informational signage in English and Spanish||Regular tenant and employee education||Annual Recycling Plan Forms|
Properties will be phased in over time. By Oct. 1, 2017, all commercial properties and multifamily properties with 5 or more units will be required to ensure convenient and compliant recycling services are available to tenants and employees. Businesses with food service permits will be required to implement an Organics Diversion program, starting with businesses larger than 15,000 square feet on Oct. 1, 2016. All businesses with food service permits will be required to divert food scraps by Oct. 1, 2018. More information available here.
The URO is rolling out over a five-year period, starting Oct. 1, 2012 and affecting smaller properties each year. By Oct. 2017, all commercial and multifamily properties will need to ensure convenient and compliant recycling services are available to tenants and employees.
Properties with food service permits will be required to implement an Organics Diversion Program starting Oct. 1, 2016 with all food service establishments affected within three years.
|Properties are subject to the URO beginning:||Multifamily properties with:||Commercial office buildings larger than:||Other commercial properties larger than:||Organics Diversion requirements for food service permitted businesses larger than:|
|10/1/2012||75 or more dwelling units||100,000 SF|
|10/1/2013||50 or more dwelling units||75,000 SF|
|10/1/2014||25 or more dwelling units||50,000 SF||50,000 SF|
|10/1/2015||10 or more dwelling units||25,000 SF||25,000 SF|
|10/1/2016||All properties||5,000 SF||5,000 SF||15,000 SF|
|10/1/2017||All properties||All properties||5,000 SF|
|10/1/2018||All food service permitted businesses|
The phase-in approach was the result of months of stakeholder meetings with businesses, haulers, and the public. The goal of the phase-in approach is to implement zero waste policies in a manner that supports investment in infrastructure (bins, education, capacity) while balancing costs to businesses and progress towards Austin’s Zero Waste goal.
As of October 1, 2016, the URO affects commercial properties 5,000 square feet and larger and all multifamily properties. By October 1, 2017, all commercial and multifamily properties will be affected. Five requirements are necessary to comply with the URO recycling requirements:
Affected properties must submit the online Recycling Plan by Feb. 1 of each year. Properties have the opportunity to submit a waiver or alternative compliance request through the Recycling Plan.
Properties are required to offer recycling for these materials (at a minimum):
|Paper (including mixed paper and office paper)||PETE and HDPE plastic (#1 and #2)||Aluminum cans||Glass bottles and jars||Cardboard and boxboard|
*Alternative materials can be proposed in the annual Recycling Plan Form
Onsite composting of yard trimmings, food scraps or other compostable materials may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Austin Resource Recovery Director as an alternative collection method if well managed and not a nuisance or sanitation problem.
Though composting is one way to divert compostable materials from landfills, there are other ways to divert these materials to higher and better uses (see EPA's Food Hierarchy below).
Image source: http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/
The URO Organics Diversion requirements affect the largest food service businesses (over 15,000 square feet) beginning October 1, 2016 and phase in over three years. All Austin businesses with food permits will be affected by these requirements on October 1, 2018.
The intent is that employees and tenants have access to food scrap diversion program (e.g. donation, food to farms or composting) and does not require (but, does encourage) diversion of post-consumer food scraps. Minimum requirements include:
For more information visit austintexas.gov/bizorganics
The goal of the URO is to ensure tenants and employees have access to well-marked and convenient recycling. The Administrative Rules set standards that include the following:
Multifamily/Condominium Property Capacity Requirements:
Recycling capacity must be equal to or greater than 6.4 gallons per dwelling unit, per week.
Commercial/Office/industrial Property Capacity Requirements:
Recycling capacity must be equal to, or greater than, 50 percent of the total weekly service capacity for all materials. In other words, recycling and trash capacities must be at a 1 to 1 ratio. For example, if you have a 6-yard trash dumpster collected once per week, you would need the equivalent of 6-yards of recycling container collected every week. NOTE: Containers can be different sizes, as long as the collection frequency equals 1-to-1 trash recycling.
To ensure convenient access for tenants or employees, all exterior recycling containers much be located within 25 feet of exterior trash containers (including dumpsters, carts or other containers). Properties may request a Waiver when submitting an Annual Diversion Plan, if a property has unique geographic or facility layout challenges. Waivers are reviewed by staff and if granted, are only good for one reporting period.
For questions about capacity, container placement or waivers, please contact CommercialRecycling@austintexas.gov.
Properties must provide signage that includes the following:
To complement educational materials provided by private haulers, Austin Resource Recovery provides free signage and educational materials for recycling and composting programs on our website. To request labels for your recycling containers, please contact us at CommercialRecycling@austinrecycles.com.
Properties are required to:
Austin Resource Recovery’s free signage and educational materials for recycling and composting programs can be found on our website. For additional assistance, please contact Austin Resource Recovery staff at CommercialRecycling@austinrecycles.com.
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) mails one letter to the property owner of record and one to the affected property address in advance of their Oct. 1 effective date each year. Following this initial contact, ARR then reaches out to each affected property owner and offers one-on-one assistance over the phone, via e-mail, and through site visits. ARR also works with various business, real estate and property management organizations to help spread the word about recycling requirements. ARR uses print and digital advertisements in targeted publications to inform the public about the Universal Recycling Ordinance and to advertise the resources that are available.
The Ordinance requires property owners, or their designee, to ensure a compliant recycling program is available to tenants and employees.
Each year, affected properties complete the online Annual Diversion Plan to report their level of service and education efforts. In addition, City staff may respond to complaints and inspect properties to confirm compliance with the URO.
During the first year after a property becomes subject to the URO, City staff will provide education and technical assistance to owners, property managers and their tenants. If owners and managers are making good faith efforts to comply with the Ordinance, Austin Resource Recovery staff will work to cooperatively solve unique implementation challenges. After the initial one-year period, affected property owners that do not meet the minimum standards of a compliant recycling program may be subject to fines and enforcement by Austin Code.
Austin Resource Recovery and the Business Outreach Team are committed to outreach, education, and helping properties and businesses implement cost-effective recycling and waste diversion programs. Fines may be assessed in cases where education and assistance have been offered and the property owner or designee continues to fail to meet the requirements of the Ordinance.
Reducing the size of trash containers, or frequency of trash pick-up, may offset some or all of the costs of adding recycling services. Contact your current service provider to discuss trash, recycling and composting service options. Find a list of licensed service providers here.
Yes! Contact the Business Outreach Team at CommercialRecycling@austinrecycles.com to schedule a free presentation by one of our team members to your professional organization, green team, executive team, or other group.
Ask your property manager, or your current trash service provider, about providing recycling services. In addition, you can search Earth911.com for local recycling providers or facilities.
A list of licensed trash, recycling, and compost haulers can be found here.
If you think that your employer or apartment complex is affected by the URO, but not compliant, please contact the Business Outreach Team at CommercialRecycling@austinrecycles.com and we will look in to the matter for you.
Office equipment companies, janitorial supply retailers, and home improvement stores offer a variety of recycling containers. Consider standardizing container colors to keep it simple:
Austin Resource Recovery can provide businesses with waste assessments, resources, and education. Site Assessment Visits are complementary and include a starter kit and sample bin types to help jumpstart or expand your recycling program. Contact Austin Resource Recovery’s Business Outreach Team at CommercialRecycling@austinrecycles.com to schedule a visit.
What Do I Do With... is an A to Z recycling, reusing, and composting guide for City of Austin residential curbside customers. Other Austin residents and businesses can consult Earth911.com for additional resources and information on local recycling and reuse facilities. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Austin Resource Recovery’s Business Outreach Team at CommercialRecycling@austinrecycles.com
After your event, make sure you collect a breakdown of materials by weight. Simply divide the total weight of recycling and organic materials by the total weight of all materials gathered at your event. You’ll collect a diversion rate (percentage) to see how well you recycled at your event!
The number of containers you need at your event depends on the number of attendees, the amount of waste your event plans to generate and what materials you will decide to collect. When looking for a licensed waste hauler, they may be able to help you determine how many containers you will need. It is recommended to order the same number of each container (landfill trash, recycling, organics) for common collection areas.
Each event is required to develop and submit a waste management plan as part of their Austin Center for Events permit application. The plan should include details about access to any on site landfill trash, recycling, and organic diversion. This includes all areas of the event venue, surrounding areas leading to the event, during event setup, and post event cleaning associated with your event. In order to reach Austin’s zero waste goal, we encourage events to provide recycling and organic efforts at your event.