City Council votes to create an ordinance to increase recycling at food trucks


Helen Fernandez

Students Henry Yoo and Philip Cho order food at the Korean Komfort food truck. On Thursday the Austin City Council voted to create an ordinance for on-site recycling. 

Wynne Davis

Customers at food trucks may soon be able to recycle on-site, after the Austin City Council voted Thursday to ask the city manager to create an ordinance enabling food trucks to provide recycling and composting receptacles.

The council’s vote, which was in keeping with the Austin Resource Recovery Department’s Zero Waste Master Plan, asked city manager Marc Ott to present a draft of the ordinance to the council on May 22.

The current health code hinders food trucks from providing adequate recycling options for customers, according to Jessica King, division manager for the Austin Resources Recovery department.

“Right now, the health code and the new building code do not allow [food trucks] to place additional containers separate from their trailers,” King said. “Everything has to be attached to their trailers … it’s not as convenient as they would like it to be.”

King said the city of Austin manages 25 percent of the waste generated by the community and the other 75 percent is managed by the private sector. Because of this, King said, the Zero Waste Advisory Commission — which doesn’t have the power to require food trucks to provide these bins — focuses on making recommendations based on infrastructure, outreach prospects and implementation plans.

In the Rancho Rio Eatery, a food trailer park in West Campus, vendors such as Korean Komfort can recycle because the park management provides recycling bins for the food trucks in that area. Korean Komfort owner Paul Cho said his employees do their best to recycle plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, glass and any other recyclable materials.

Cho said although he supports recycling efforts, he is more concerned about finding a way to dispose of the wastewater each truck creates.

“If there was a city ordinance in place or a service that provides for the collection of this wastewater it would benefit all truck and trailer operators,” Cho said.

Mechanical engineering senior Robin Zou said he visits the West Campus trucks every month. He said more recycling options would be good, especially in a city like Austin.

“Food trucks are very popular in this city since people come here for events like ACL and South By [Southwest], so it’s important for us to be environmentally conscious and show everyone how to recycle and that Austin recycles,” Zou said.