The city of Austin has many nicknames. It is known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” “Silicon Hills,” and various others. We should aim to add “Zero Waste City” to its list of nicknames.
On December 15, 2011 the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan establishing a goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040. This means keeping at least 90% of discarded materials out of the landfill. This goal is certainly possible due to the fact that 90% of discarded materials are either reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
Landfills are one of the largest sources of Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Methane is 21 to 75 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide, therefore if we can reduce our landfills we will also reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses.
The City of Austin has already implemented various actions to become waste free and has created many ways to make recycling and waste disposal more accessible, easier, and more efficient for residents and businesses. The city is doing its part, now every person just needs to do theirs in order to achieve this goal.
As a resident, you can do your part by being resourceful. Use reusable bags and bottles, conserve energy, compost and above all, recycle: it is very important and easy to do.
When you open your electricity and water accounts with the city of Austin, you automatically receive recycling service. The city comes and picks up recycling at the same time as it picks up your trash. In addition, the city does single-stream recycling, meaning you don’t have to separate your recycling. This minimizes confusion. (Although most plastics, glass, aluminum, paper, and metal items are recyclable, there are a few exceptions.)
With this service, all you have to do is recycle your items and the city will pick up and sort your recycling. Pickup is every two weeks. In addition, the city performs bi-annually brush and bulk item collections, has household hazardous waste disposal centers, and various other resources.
Recycling is a simple task we can all do that will not only help our landfills but will help our environment as a whole. With a Zero Waste goal at hand, let’s make Austin one of the first cities to become waste free and try our best to achieve this goal.
- Lauren Fedele, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Intern