What contractors need to know about Austin’s construction and demolition recycling ordinance (and will it spread to other cities))

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Over 7.5 million tons of construction and demolition materials were landfilled in Texas in 2019, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The City of Austin’s Construction and Demolition (C&D) Recycling Ordinance, which went into effect in 2016, requires general contractors who manage building and demolition projects to divert materials from landfills.

Which projects are affected?

1. Construction projects: Building permits for more than 5,000 square feet of new, added, or remodeled floor area.

2. Commercial demolition projects: Commercial and multifamily demolition projects of all sizes.

What are general contractors required to do?

1. Reuse or recycle construction and demolition debris. Contractors must do at least one of the following:

Divert at least 50% of the construction project debris from the landfill.
Dispose of no more than 2.5 pounds of material per square foot of floor area in the landfill.

2. Submit an online Construction Recycling Report

A Construction Recycling Report is due when a contractor requests a final building inspection. This report shows how many tons of construction debris was reused, recycled, and landfilled during the project. Contractors can combine information from several affected permits into one report.

Tip: Licensed haulers and facilities receiving the construction debris can provide you with the tonnage information needed to complete the report.

Are there exemptions?

The ordinance exempts special waste and hazardous material, including those containing asbestos and lead. Contractors need to dispose of those materials by following appropriate local and state regulations.
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What if I can’t meet the requirements?

Projects that do not meet the recycling requirements due to the type of materials discarded or other obstacles can request a waiver through the online reporting system. Contractors must show they made a reasonable effort to meet the ordinance requirements.

Why does the City of Austin require construction and demolition recycling or reuse?

Over 7.5 million tons of construction and demolition materials were landfilled in Texas in 2019, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). These materials accounted for over 21 percent of the total waste sent to landfills across the state.

The City of Austin is working to reach Zero Waste by 2040, which means keeping at least 90 percent of discarded materials out of the landfill. The ordinance supports Zero Waste by requiring contractors to reuse or recycle materials from local projects. These actions provide several environmental and economic benefits while extending the lifespan of local landfills.

Learn more about the ordinance, find a licensed hauler, or submit a Construction Recycling Report at austintexas.gov/cd. Email ARRcommercialrecycling@austintexas.gov with questions.

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