Austin Passes Law Requiring Restaurants to Donate or Compost Uneaten Food

Austin Universal Recycling Ordinance Austin Restaurants Food Waste Law

Organic Leftovers (Photo: KaliAntye via Shutterstock)

Over the last few years, food waste laws have been popping up all over the globe. In 2015, France passed a proposal that requires grocery stores to donate or compost unsold food. In 2016, Italy and Denmark followed suit, implementing their own food-focused initiatives. And now, the United States is hopping on board, as Austin has banned restaurants from throwing away anything that can be composted.

Under this new law, all businesses that serve food—including restaurants, certain shops, farmers' markets, and even sites involved in its preparation and processing—are forbidden from throwing away leftovers and scraps. Instead, they are urged to donate unsold edibles to charities (the preferred option) or farms and compost organic materials, which transcends food to also include paper (napkins and cartons, for example) and plant-based items.

On top of “diverting organics,” all food-permitted institutions must also educate their employees, post signage pertaining to the ordinance, and submit an annual “Organic Diversion Plan.” Businesses that don't comply with these new rules will face fines of up to $2,000.

This legislation is part of the capital city's Universal Recycling Ordinance, a law that requires property owners to provide recycling options for tenants and employees. This ordinance, in turn, supports Austin Resource Recovery‘s goal of Zero Waste by 2040, which aims to keep 90% of materials out of the city's landfills.

“According to the 2015 Diversion Study, more than 85 percent of Austin's trash and recycling comes from commercial businesses, multifamily properties and food service establishments,” Austin Resource Recovery explains. “Of the materials sent to landfills, 37 percent is organic and could have been donated or composted. Consequently, the URO is a key component in the City's strategy to reach Zero Waste by 2040.”

If you'd like to learn more about Austin's steps toward sustainability, check out the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan.

As part of its Universal Recycling Ordinance, Austin has passed a new law banning businesses from throwing away food. Instead, Austin restaurants and shops must compost or donate any leftover organics.

Austin Universal Recycling Ordinance Austin Restaurants Food Waste Law

Texas State Capitol Building in Austin (Photo: f11photo via Shutterstock)

h/t: [Green Matters]

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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