Austin, Texas Bans Restaurants From Throwing Away Food Waste

The city has passed a new law requiring restaurants to responsibly dispose of their extra food.

This week, the city of Austin, Texas implemented a law banning restaurants from tossing their food waste in landfills. Under the new legislation, restaurants and food-permitted businesses will be required to donate or compost any unconsumed or leftover food.

Austin's Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO), which took effect Oct. 1., also allows restaurants to send food scraps to local animal farms or ranches. As stipulated in the new measure, employees must receive training about handling the waste.

"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," Sam Angoori, interim director of Austin Resource Recovery, said Monday in an official statement.

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The city decided to put the URO into effect following a 2015 study that determined more than 85 percent of the city's trash and recycling came from commercial businesses, multifamily properties, and food service establishments. The study also concluded that 37 percent of the materials sent to landfills are organic and could have been donated or composted.

Now, the Texas capital is working to establish more environmentally friendly practices for restaurants to discard material. The new law will play a key component in the city's ongoing efforts to reach zero waste by 2040. It could also lead local food banks, like the Central Texas Food Bank, to see an increase in donations in the coming weeks. A Plus has reached out to Central Texas Food Bank for comment.

Austin isn't the only city to prioritize the diversion of organics from landfills. Other U.S. cities have passed similar initiatives. As CNBC reports, San Francisco is considered a global leader in waste management, successfully diverting about 80 percent of waste away from landfills. New York and Seattle are also among the popular cities with measures requiring responsible disposal of their extra food products.

Cover image via Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock.

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