AUSTIN (KXAN) – On Thursday, the City of Austin’s chief sustainability officer and the director of Austin Resource Recovery responded to the city’s single-use plastics resolution.

According to the staff response, the resolution directed the city manager to:

  • implement a strategy, engage with stakeholders, and provide public education campaigns to reduce the use of single-use plastic by restaurants, bars, and other commercial food or beverage establishments
  • work with the Austin Restaurant Association and other stakeholders to promote replacing single-use plastics and styrofoam with biodegradable materials
  • explore ways to reduce reliance on the use of disposable plastic water bottles by Austin visitors as well as city employees and residents at city-owned facilities

“The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and reaching ninety percent landfill diversion by the year 2040… Work by staff to reduce waste from single-use plastics at the source is underway and will continue for the foreseeable future,” the memo said.

The memo said Austin Resource Recovery and Office of Sustainability staff worked closely together to develop a Zero Waste at city facilities organization-wide policy, which would ensure all city employees receive zero waste training and educational materials at least once per year.

According to the memo, Austin Resource Recovery also offers businesses a Zero Waste Business Rebate program to improve their waste reduction and diversion practices.

One of the program activities included the elimination or replacement of single-use, harmful, or unnecessary plastics and polystyrene foam content with compostable or reusable options.

Staff said the city has direct control over its waste reduction activities and it could carry out plans to serve as an example to others of zero waste best practices.

“All City of Austin employees have an influence on changing the culture within City government and promotion of zero waste throughout the community,” the memo said.

A portion of the resolution unsupported by city staff was the request to provide visitors with a reusable water bottle upon arrival at the Austin airport.

The memo said city staff would continue working to develop strategies to achieve the city’s zero waste goals.