Summary

Approximately 7,900 City of Austin curbside residential customers will receive weekly curbside collection of organic materials, which will be turned into nutrient-rich compost. This pilot program is part of the City’s commitment to a Zero Waste goal to divert 90 percent of materials from landfills by 2040.

“At present, nearly half the materials that end up in the landfill could be composted,” says Austin Resource Recovery Director, Bob Gedert. “Collecting organic materials at the curb will keep valuable materials out of our landfills, reduce harmful greenhouse gases and help Austin get closer to Zero Waste.”

Austin Resource Recovery currently provides all customers with weekly curbside collection of yard trimmings collected in lawn and leaf bags or bundled in twine. The households participating in the Curbside Organics Collection Pilot received a green, 96-gallon cart to collect yard trimmings, food scraps, and food-soiled paper.  Pilot participants also received a small food scrap collector to help take food scraps from the kitchen to the organics cart. Organics will be processed to create compost, a nutrient-rich, soil-like material that can be used on lawns and gardens to help plants grow.

How Does it Work?

During the one-year pilot, the City will evaluate the effectiveness of organics collection and refine curbside organics collection services. The pilot will also evaluate possible costs to determine if there would be any impact on future rates.  The Curbside Organics Collection Pilot includes approximately 7,900 households in five pilot areas throughout Austin. Selected households include five geographic areas and represent the City’s diverse demographics. Depending on how the pilot areas perform, additional households could be added, with the goal providing curbside organics collection to every Austin Resource Recovery curbside customer by 2016. 

Application

Pilot participants pay no additional cost for their new organics collection service. The pilot may actually result in cost savings for pilot participants. After putting food scraps and food-soiled paper in their organics carts, participants likely will have less trash to throw away each week. This may allow them to downsize to a smaller, less expensive trash cart and save money on their monthly utility bills. Austin Resource Recovery offers four trash cart sizes – the smaller the cart, the less it costs.

For instructional videos, downloadable resources and tips for cleaning carts and food scrap collectors, visit austintexas.gov/austincomposts.