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Austin is Making It Easier For Food Trucks to Recycle and Compost
The Korean Komfort food trailer in West Campus. Trailers and trucks in established courts can possess freestanding recycling and composting services, but under current city code, solo trucks cannot.

Baton Creole food truck owner Lynzy Moran has been cited twice by the City of Austin for trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Once it was for collecting grease to be recycled into biodiesel. Another time it was for trying to compost food waste. Now she drives the hot oil she uses to clean her fryers from her East Sixth Street location to a commissary for disposal.

"I'm literally having to travel with hot oil in my car every night, which is also very dangerous and pretty scary," Moran says. "[I've] definitely burned myself a few times."

City health officials have complained about the regulations. "It causes all kinds of problems, but we can’t just ignore the code,” health department division manager Vincent Delisi told Reporting Texas in December.

Recycling shouldn't be a problem for established food truck courts. Austin's permanent food truck courts on South First Street and Barton Springs Road offer picnic tables and recycling. But if it's just an empty lot, any recycling, oil or composting facility is supposed to be attached to the food truck.

But now, thanks to a measure approved by the Austin City Council this morning, Austin's individual food trucks could have an easier time recycling and composting.

In April, Planning and Development Review Department head Greg Guernsey told the city's Zero Waste Advisory Commission a change would require a revision to Austin's land development code.

"From my standpoint, the mobile food vendors don't exist on the land, because they are mobile," Guernsey explained. "They're licensed vehicles. So I'm only left with a permanent trash facility by itself."

This morning, city council approved a measure instructing city staff to come up with a fix for the code that would allow more recycling and composting at food truck sites. The changes should come back to the council for final approval by May 22. 

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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