Composting Will Be The Latest Thing Offered By Austin Food Trucks

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On Thursday the Austin City Council approved a measure that would make it possible for food trucks to start recycling and composting. The mobile food purveyors have become a fixture in an increasing number of neighborhoods, particularly in central Austin where tourists and some good press have fostered a foodie renaissance.

The code change comes after a resolution in May, sponsored by Councilman Chris Riley and co-sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Councilman Mike Martinez directed the City Manager to provide council with a draft ordinance allowing for mobile food vendors to have detached recycling and composting bins. The measure was necessary because the Universal Recycling Ordinance requires that all property owners must ensure that tenants and employees have access to “convenient” recycling services by October 1st 2017. And, by October 1st, 2018 it also requires that all food service enterprises have an organics diversion services plan, in a word — compost.

That requirement is difficult given that the entire idea of a food truck is by design a limited space and the code change basically acknowledges the burden placed on permit holders to comply in good faith.

Food trucks have become ubiquitous in the city’s core and are a popular option to fill late night food gap. Everyone knows it’s no good to go drinking on an empty stomach and you can now find a food trailer park near, or a food truck attached to, some of Austin’s most popular bars.

In some cases the food trucks become the actually destination — thus is the case with East Side Kings. In fact for fans of ESK there are a few options and due to popular demand there is now even a brick and mortar version. The brand, known for funky art on its trailers and savory asian fusion was the brainchild of Paul Qui, the winner of Season 9 of Top Chef who built his local fame on stints at Uchi and Uchiko, two of Austin’s most noteworthy sushi joints.

Speaking of sushi Austin now even has a sushi trailer on East 6th, but I digress. The point here is — food trucks are everywhere, people love them, and no one should have to give up their social or environmental responsibility to enjoy them.

Advocates for zero waste also see this as a big win.  Andrew Dobbs, the Central Texas Program Director for Texas Campaign For the Environment says TCFE “fights hard for zero waste in Texas,” and he’s thrilled, “Austinites can now have a waste-free night out at our favorite food trucks.”

As our population increases and urban areas densify people will have to learn to deal with the enormous amounts of waste we create on a regular basis, and being the mother of invention some creative folks in Austin have turned solving these problems into a business model.

For example, if you live in or visit Austin you may now see more collection and peddling of compost thanks to Dustin Fedako, CEO of the East Side Compost Pedallers who say’s the company is happy to expand their, “bike-powered composting program to all of Austin’s food trucks.”

Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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