Apply to be a Material Supplier at the next [Re]Verse Pitch Competition

Material supplier applications for the next [Re]Verse Pitch Competition just opened! If you're not familiar with [Re]Verse Pitch, its goal is to have entrepreneurs come up with ways they could repurpose another Austin business' material. We do this by having businesses "pitch" a surplus or by-product material to entrepreneurs at an opening event--these entrepreneurs then receive mentorship and technical advice while they create and refine a business idea to repurpose one or more of the competition materials. The top ideas are presented at the final event and the winning entrepreneurs receive cash and in-kind prizes to support the launch of their business idea.

Do you have any surplus or scrap material that you regularly generate but don't have a good way to divert it? If so, you could apply to pitch it in [Re]Verse Pitch and potentially find a solution through the creativity of local entrepreneurs! The competition is headed into its 4th year and other local businesses with surplus materials have seen some great successes from participating--you can see a few of their stories featured here:

It's free to participate as a Material Supplier and the application is short and straightforward. If selected, you would put together a short pitch for the material for the opening event (in late February 2019) and then work with any entrepreneurs who are repurposing your material to answer questions as they arise over the next several weeks. We would also ask for your input during the judging process to make sure the winning choice is an idea that works for you as the potential supplier.

The deadline to apply is December 7th. Here is the link:

Daniel Kietzer
Austin Resource Recovery's AMM Series: SXSW Discards Benefit Local Nonprofits, Farms And Artists
Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's  Road to Zero Waste blog . 

Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's Road to Zero Waste blog

SXSW, the annual 10 day event bringing countless activations, expos and people to Austin, transforms the Austin Convention Center into an interactive landscape of creativity and learning. Then as soon as it appears, the festival seems to vanish until next year. But what happens to all the materials that were used to construct the wonderful world of SXSW? Where do all the unique and valuable elements (set designs, exhibits, signage, etc.) end up?

In years past, much of the creations constructed during the festival were landfilled after the event ended. This year, however, Austin Materials Marketplace aimed to make SXSW an opportunity to rescue materials and put them to use for the community. AMM worked hard to connect local business owners with the surplus material created by the festival, taking material off organizers’ hands and providing local business with new resources. Organizers of SXSW and material generators such as Sony and Production Glue were essential in making these trades possible and serve as great examples of ways companies can manage their materials responsibly.

Because of the wide array of expos and activations, the festival provided useful and valuable material that would be difficult to find elsewhere. Participants were able to receive free lumber, fabric, fiberglass, furniture, fencing, insulation and much more!

Participating businesses and organizations included the Museum of Human Achievement, Austin Tinkering School, Austin Creative Reuse, Colorado River Event & Cultural Center, various farms, and local artists. 

Participating businesses and organizations included the Museum of Human Achievement, Austin Tinkering School, Austin Creative Reuse, Colorado River Event & Cultural Center, various farms, and local artists. 


SXSW 2018’s left-overs were reused in a variety of practical and creative ways. Johnson’s Backyard Garden is using SXSW discards to create arts & crafts activities and signage. Taylor Farm used building materials to create farm volunteer housing and the Museum of Human Achievement used recovered wood to build a new wheelchair ramp for their headquarters. Austin Creative Reuse store is selling material as-is and artist Calder Kamin used many of the discards to create an installation at the DoSeum.

Overall, SXSW’s discarded materials were salvaged and reused by 15 businesses and organizations which ultimately kept about 15,000 pounds of materials out of local landfills. But the trades aren’t just eco-friendly, they make economic sense too. By rethinking their waste, SXSW exhibitors avoided trash pick-up fees and recipients got over $21,000 in materials. — A win, win!

While SXSW comes and goes each year, repurposing of these formerly discarded festival materials will continue to support local business and organizations for years to come.

Katie Duffy
Austin Resource Recovery's AMM Series: Cricket Grower Reduces Waste By Supporting Hog Farm
Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's  Road to Zero Waste blog . 

Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's Road to Zero Waste blog

What do crickets and hogs have in common? They’re both helping the circular economy go ‘round here in Austin, Texas. A circular economy is an economy where waste is reduced by reusing and recycling material as much as possible before it’s sent to the landfill.

So what do crickets and hogs have to do with it?

Aspire Food Group is a food-grade cricket farm located in Southeast Austin dedicated to sustainability and reaching Zero Waste. Aspire Food group raises high-protein edible insects using technology while maintaining a small environmental footprint.

Eden’s Cove Farm is a heritage hog farm that offers various services like homesteading classes, raw milk pickups, and kitchen rental.


As a company centered on sustainability, Aspire Food Group saw an opportunity to reduce their waste through the Austin Materials Marketplace. Because crickets need fresh food, they produce a large quantity of leftover uneaten feed. Instead of throwing it out, Aspire Food Group sought out an opportunity to help another nearby farm.

Each week, JoAnn Smotherman of Eden’s Cove Farm picks up buckets of this high-quality, nutrient-rich feed from Aspire Food Group for the hogs on her farm. The feed is comprised of organic corn and soy meal – it even contains bonus larvae which are very healthy for hogs.

Beneficial to both farms, this trade allows Aspire Food Group to stay true to their Zero Waste values while providing Eden’s Cove access to high-quality feed at a much more affordable price. To date, they've diverted over 70,000 pounds of organic corn and soy meal from landfills!

Similar values of sustainability and resourcefulness made these two farms a perfect match. According to Vincent Vitale, Business Development Manager of Aspire Food Group, AMM has helped their company solve problems that they don’t have the bandwidth to solve themselves. AMM is helping bridge gaps and make connections between businesses that otherwise would not be able to coordinate these exchanges.

BlogKatie Duffy
March Madness - Austin Materials Marketplace Style
The UpCycle area at South by Southwest's Trade Show - a collaborative effort between the Austin Materials Marketplace team, South by Southwest, and Austin Resource Recovery. 

The UpCycle area at South by Southwest's Trade Show - a collaborative effort between the Austin Materials Marketplace team, South by Southwest, and Austin Resource Recovery. 

March was a wild month for Austin and the Austin Materials Marketplace program - South by Southwest electrified Austin for 9 days and joined forces with the Marketplace program to divert a record-shattering amount of materials.

The Marketplace team and our partners at Austin Resource Recovery worked with the SXSW trade show, Sony’s activation, and the Land of Lake’s activation. All in all, 16 Marketplace participants diverted approximately 15,000 pounds of materials from the landfill - our most impactful effort to date. Materials rescued from the landfill as a result of this collaboration include construction materials (lumber, insulation foam, flooring, and more), furniture pieces, decor items, office supplies, and electronics.

We can’t wait to share more details about this effort, where the materials ended up, and how you can get involved in more of our event material recovery efforts. Stay tuned...


Katie Duffy
From Trash to a New Home - Austin Eastciders supports local farm with materials instead of sending them to the landfill

Austin Eastciders is a booming local cidery that signed up for the Austin Materials Marketplace to discover reuse opportunities for their traditional and non-traditional wastes. Recently, these materials have included a number of construction and demolition materials from a recent remodel. Like many construction projects, Eastciders had surplus materials at the end of the project  - 2x4s, plywood, beams, steel piping, conduit, and more. 

The Marketplace team assisted with taking inventory, creating listings, promoting what was available out to the Austin business community, and identifying potential takers for the materials. The team found a successful match when they reached out Taylor Farm, a small organic farm that offers eggs, meat, and fresh produce. 

Taylor Farm hosts volunteers to teach them about organic farming practices, and is in the process of creating a housing structure for the volunteers as well as a portable composting toilet. 1,000 pounds of lumber from Austin Eastciders will be used in the construction of these two structures - saving an estimated $1,888 in purchasing costs for materials as well as a reduction in operating expenses of $80/month (the price paid to rent a composting toilet). All in all, this transaction saved approximately $2,000 between the 2 businesses, diverted 29 cubic feet of materials from the landfill, and avoided 1.38 metric tons of carbon emissions that would have been emitted from creating virgin lumber. 

The Austin Materials Marketplace makes it easy for companies and organizations to collaborate on their waste materials in a way that also creates value for their business, the community, and the environment. Get your business signed up today and see what opportunities are in store for your “trash”. 

Blog, Success StoriesKatie Duffy
Austin Resource Recovery's AMM Series: Partners in Reuse - JOSCO Products & Austin Creative Reuse
Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's  Road to Zero Waste blog . 

Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's Road to Zero Waste blog

There are simple ways for us to reuse; using canvas grocery bags, bringing a coffee mug to work or purchasing rechargeable batteries. But how can businesses join the reuse movement? Thanks to the Austin Materials Marketplace, businesses and nonprofits all over the City are connecting to exchange and reuse surplus materials that would otherwise be sent to local landfills.

In Austin Resource Recovery's new series, AMM Success Stories, they take a look at some of the program’s most impactful and dynamic exchanges. Learn more and get inspired by local businesses who are taking an active role in helping achieving Austin's Zero Waste goal!

Austin Creative Reuse & JOSCO Products

It all started with buttons. JOSCO Products had them and Austin Creative Reuse wanted them.

After connecting at a 2015 meetup held by Austin Materials Marketplace, Carole LeClair, Board President with Austin Creative Reuse, and Colleen Halbrook, President and CEO of JOSCO Products, discovered this need and the gears started turning. A partnership was born!

But first, a little back story on Austin Creative Reuse and JOSCO Products. 

Austin Creative Reuse (ACR) is a nonprofit that collects and sells donated craft materials. Their goal is to give unwanted materials a new life through crafting and upcycling. ACR is a volunteer-run organization that seeks to “foster conservation and reuse through creativity, education and community building.”

JOSCO Products is a local textile recycler and industrial manufacture passionate about reuse. Founded in 1980, JOSCO creates upcycled industrial cleaning products out of surplus textiles such as clothing, sheets and fabric. Much of the textiles they receive are old uniform shirts used by various City of Austin departments.

Flash forward— JOSCO Products is supplying Austin Creative Reuse with both buttons and workman’s patches removed from shirts before they’re turned into Eco-Rags.  As you can imagine, buttons are in high demand at Austin Creative Reuse. From collages to jewelry to mosaics, crafters visit the center to pick up buttons for creative projects every day. This transaction has diverted 965 pounds from landfills and generated value for Austin Creative Reuse and its customers!      


What could make this partnership even better? After touring JOSCO’s manufacturing facilities, the team at ACR discovered a way they could return the favor.

Because ACR is a donation-based retailer, they receive all sorts of materials. This includes lots of fabric. However, not all of it can be sold in their store. Some fabric is too small, too smelly or too dirty.  So the question became: what to do with the unsellable fabric? Because of their existing partnership with Austin Materials Marketplace, the answer was clear. JOSCO would collect unsellable donated fabric and recycle it to make their signature, Eco Rags.

JOSCO has been an eco-minded business for 30 years and was eager to help another local business divert waste from landfills. This exchange is ongoing and has diverted 1,353 pounds from landfills while saving JOSCO a lot of money on materials!

These aren’t the only businesses committed to reducing waste; stay tuned for more Austin Material Marketplace Success Stories for inspiring tales of rescued materials and creative partnerships.

Katie Duffy
Austin Resource Recovery's AMM Series: The Who, the What, then When, the Where, the Why
AMM Series Header.png

Originally appeared on Austin Resource Recovery's Road to Zero Waste blog

We’ve heard the saying one person’s trash is another person’s treasure—Thanks to the Austin Materials Marketplace, the age-old adage rings true for Austin businesses! For the past three years, Austin businesses and non-profits have been saving money, making valuable connections, and reducing waste by trading items back and forth. In the first of a series showcasing the AMM, let’s breakdown the nuts and bolts of the program and look back at some of its accomplishments as we celebrate its three year anniversary and the launch of a new program website and marketplace platform.

The Basics

Who:  So far, 264 companies are participating and any business, entrepreneur or non-profit in Austin or Travis County are welcome to join.

What: A business-to-business reuse platform run by the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development with support from Austin Resource Recovery. AMM works like a specialized Craigslist for businesses if Craigslist had a person constantly watching the “free!” and “wanted” sections and facilitating matches between them. The program is free for participants with suggested donation levels depending on the size of your business.


When: Anytime! Sign up online and upload your available or wanted materials at your convenience.

You can also join the AMM for one of their monthly meet-ups (starting back up in March '18).

Where: Central Texas. AMM is also part of an international network of Materials Marketplace projects across the globe, from Ohio to Turkey.

Why: Because trading materials makes sense for you, your fellow businesses, the City and the planet. AMM has generated an estimated $372,000 in savings or value creation for participants, diverted an estimated 45,000 cubic feet from the landfill and avoided the approximate equivalent of more than 758 metric tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere.

Success Stories

How are businesses and non-profits using the AMM? Here are just a few examples of recent trades:

  • Harmony School of Science received 60 student desks from Austin Community College
  • Viking Fence’s leftover sawdust from its manufacturing process went to the Compost Coalition for use as a soil amendment
  • The Austin Disaster Relief Network acquired a used ice machine from the Habitat Suites Hotel
  • Electronics refurbishment and recycling company R2 Corporation traded tech benches and other business equipment with audio manufacturer Avenson Audio
  • Creative space The Museum of Human Achievement gave a second home to a serving cart, patio umbrella, clothes rack, towel rack, picnic table, and rugs leftover from SXSW events organized by Production Glue

What could you trade through the Austin Materials Marketplace?
In the coming months, we'll share more in-depth stories with you from the Austin Materials Marketplace program.

Katie Duffy
Build A Sign and Austin Creative Reuse reframe waste as a resource - helping their business, the environment, and the community
BuildASign scrap sign material.jpg

Build A Sign, an Austin printing company, joined the Austin Materials Marketplace to help close the loop on some of their most common byproducts - flag fabric, canvas, vinyl, sticker, gator board, and mesh scrap. The Marketplace team stepped in to learn more about these materials and promote their availability to businesses who could potentially use these materials.

After researching these materials and their reuse applications, the Austin Materials Marketplace team cast a wide net to promote them to local businesses and organizations, and hauled in Austin Creative Reuse as an interested taker. Austin Creative Reuse is a local non-profit whose primary mission is to promote conservation and reuse through education, creativity and community building. Since September, Austin Creative Reuse has been making weekly pick-ups for Build A Sign materials. This ongoing transaction has diverted 443 pounds of materials from the landfill which in turn avoided 1.74 cubic tons of carbon emissions from being created. These are some impressive numbers that will continue to grow in the coming year.

Build A Sign and Austin Creative reuse are also seeing monetary value created from this relationship. Build A Sign is saving on disposal costs and Austin Creative Reuse is realizing value from selling these materials at a fraction of their retail price to cost-conscious consumers such as teachers and artists. We estimate that around $2,000 worth of materials have made their way through the reuse center and back into consumers’ hands to be reused as raw material.

Even if a business recycles and composts, in many cases there are still odd materials that end up in the dumpster. Responsible businesses are exploring opportunities through the Austin Materials Marketplace to minimize costs and environmental impact by recovering these waste streams for higher & better uses - join the program to get involved!

Build - Create - Learn: Austin Materials Marketplace Workshop Recap

A big thanks to those who made it out to our Build-Create-Learn event on November 4th! We heard from Aspire Food Group about their commercial grade cricket farm that makes protein-packed snacks using minimal resources compared to other foods. Around 1,400lbs of oyster shells were diverted from the landfill and used to create a decorative lining for a pavilion. And everyone got to enjoy a beautiful day outside at Green Gate Farms surrounded by folks passionate about reuse. 

Want to learn more about what reuse events are going on in Austin? Like our Facebook page

Katie Duffy
Production Glue receives national recognition for their material recovery efforts during SXSW 2017

Event company’s diversion efforts generate $10k in value for local nonprofits, help the fight against hunger, divert 1,371 cubic feet from the landfill, and avoid 6.71 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Production Glue, a live events company and participant in the Austin Materials Marketplace, is the recipient of this year’s BizBash Event Style award for Best Sustainability / Corporate Social Responsibility Program for an Event or Meeting for their 2017 SXSW activation for TNT’s Animal Kingdom. This is a big deal. Creating a fantastic event is hard work, and taking measures to be eco and communally conscious makes that job even harder. With the full backing of their client, Civic Entertainment Group, Production Glue went above and beyond, and with our help made a positive environmental impact, helped support our local community, and gained recognition as a sustainable industry leader.

As a company, Production Glue has helped set the standard for sustainable practices in the event industry. Sustainability is baked into every part of their process, touching materials choices, logistics, energy use, waste management, execution logistics and final reconciliation. But for a production company working on a national scale, finding local connections to make these goals a reality can be a real struggle. To help fill this gap, Production Glue worked with the Austin Materials Marketplace team early in the planning process of the Animal Kingdom activation to help identify local organizations that could take and benefit from materials from the activation, and easily track and report impact metrics from the effort.

Ian’s Giving Gardens and Frutas Frescas was one of the nonprofits that received materials from the activation. Ian McKenna, 12 years old, started his giving gardens to combat hunger in Austin. Any student who comes to school hungry has access to the organic and fresh produce from his gardens. Ian received picnic tables for his gardens to enable students to have lessons outside; tools to increase the yield from his gardens; and a new canopy that he uses to set up a mobile free produce stand in communities around Austin. All in all, seven Marketplace participants accepted around $10,000 worth of materials from Production Glue including furniture, equipment, decor, landscaping materials and more. The reuse of these materials avoided 6.71 metric tons of carbon emissions and diverted approximately 1,400 cubic feet of resources from the landfill.

The Austin Materials Marketplace is beginning to engage more with large events in Austin, in part due to Austin Resource Recovery’s efforts to engage city-wide events in zero-waste initiatives. As case studies like this show, reuse of event materials can create a tremendous community impact. If you’re planning now for SXSW ‘18 and know you’ll have bulky, hard-to-recycle materials left over, contact our team for assistance - we’re happy to help!

Success Stories, BlogKatie Duffy
As parking pay stations get upgrades, old technology finds new life
The Austin Materials Marketplace helped the Austin Transportation Department divert these old pay station doors and solar panels from the landfill - saving money and avoiding CO2 emissions.

The Austin Materials Marketplace helped the Austin Transportation Department divert these old pay station doors and solar panels from the landfill - saving money and avoiding CO2 emissions.

If you’ve paid to park at a City of Austin parking spot, you’re probably familiar with the pay stations that courteously dispense parking stickers for you to slap onto your windshield (that is, unless you’re using the parking app). Well, the trusty towers in Austin's downtown core received upgrades in September, with more efficient solar panels, new and improved batteries, front panels with color displays, and better data-crunching capabilities. What’s more – much of that old hardware is getting a second life!

Working with the Austin Materials Marketplace, the Austin Transportation Department has donated approximately 130 solar panels to local education nonprofit Hackstarz. These panels will live on as both energy sources and instructional materials for hackers and makers working with solar electronics. The Marketplace team also enabled a connection to recycle 143 pay station doors, which amounts to over 2,600 pounds of metal and plastic saved! Join the Marketplace program today to help with your business' sustainability efforts. 

Blog, Success StoriesKatie Duffy
What's New in the Marketplace - Materials and Users


We have some fresh new materials listed in the Marketplace. These materials could save big for your business while also avoiding the carbon emissions that it takes to make new materials. Log in to your Marketplace account to check out these listings or get signed up here.

Here's a peak at what's available:

  1. Penco Clipper Industrial Metal Shelving Units
  2. Connected Stadium Style Waiting Room Seats
  3. Senergy Stucco
  4. Wall Mounted Baby Changing Station
  5. Gaylord Boxes


The Marketplace community rounded up some fantastic new additions recently. We are so excited to now be working with: Austin EcoNetwork, C3 Presents, The Eclectic Quirkinator, Peregi, Austin Beerworks, Global Material Recycling,Vision Gland, Big Foot Recycling, Taylor Farm,  Bailey Middle School PTA, Hebe, and CSC Management,.

Go, team!

Katie Duffy
New Funding Approach - Shifting from Required Subscriptions to Suggested Donations

As you probably know by now, 2017 has been a bit of a transition year for the Austin Materials Marketplace. We've launched a new website, a new Materials Marketplace platform, and have been moving away from City of Austin funding to a network-supported, self-funded model over the course of the summer and fall.

We've tested a few different approaches with program participants, and through their feedback have learned quite a bit in the process about reporting the shared value of the program, and preferred mechanisms for translating that shared value into sustainable program funding. 

We're no longer asking for network subscription fees. Instead, we've decided to move to a more fluid suggested donation model. This shift lets us and our program participants do a few new things:

  • Aligns a donation to the program more closely with the value they've seen through their participation. In the coming weeks, we'll be sending a report to each participant that outlines the economic and environmental benefit they've created through their engagement with the Austin Materials Marketplace that should help with the decision-making process.
  • Keeps our high social impact program participants - non-profits, teachers, social entrepreneurs - active in the program without any additional pressure on their budgets.
  • Allows larger participants to make larger donations to scale up our growth, our capacity to continue outreach to great community organizations, and our ability to innovate on our software platform.

Click the links below to set up a donation from your business or organization. We've set up easy donation levels scaled for small, medium and large organizations; or you can click the button to specify a different amount. As always, we're very thankful for the continued support from the City of Austin as we work through this process; and for the support of our participants who continue to demonstrate the business and environmental value of materials reuse. Thanks y'all!

Small Orgs


YEARLY - $200 | MONTHLY - $20

Medium Orgs


YEARLY - $500 | MONTHLY - $45

Large Orgs


YEARLY - $1,000 | MONTHLY - $85

Other amount
Daniel Kietzer
Transaction Shout-Outs

The transactions and relationships enabled through the Austin Materials Marketplace program are paving the way towards establishing a circular economy in Austin, while also doing what’s smart for businesses’ bottom lines. Here are a few neat transactions we want to highlight from this past month:

  1. 881 cubic feet (equivalent to the size of 2 concrete mixer trucks) of desks, chairs, and benches from Austin Community College to Austin Independent School District to be reused in AISD schools. This transaction created a shared value of $10,753 and avoided 4.99 metric tons of carbon emissions. 
  2. A half a ton of pallets from Austin Eastciders to JOSCO Products to be directly reused. This connection saved $576 in purchasing costs for JOSCO and $42 in disposal savings for Austin Eastciders, while diverting around 142 cubic feet from the landfill. 
  3. 25 plastic crates from El Rancho Supermarket to Austin Creative Reuse. This activity diverted 44 cubic feet from the landfill, avoided .07 metric tons of carbon emissions, and created a shared value of $88 for both businesses. 

Take advantage of the Marketplace to create savings for your business while doing right by the environment. Log in to your account to check out materials or list materials available, or if you aren’t a user yet, you can sign up here - free and painlessly. Let’s help Austin reach its zero waste goal, together. 

BlogKatie Duffy
New Additions to the Marketplace Community

We would like to take this space to warmly welcome the following companies to the Marketplace: Manna Farm Ministries, SytroRez Texas, Orangewood Inn & Suites, Tipping T, Hooligan AutoWorks, Hope Family Thrift Store, The Computer Repair Connection, Adequately Excellent Entertainment, Acura Roofing Inc., Saturn Shell, Ubreakifix, Austin Roofing and Construction, Ben E Keith Beverages, and MakeATX. 

Thanks for joining our reuse community, y’all! Without you we wouldn’t have such a successful program. 

If you haven’t logged into the new Marketplace to check things out, you should give it a look! With the new additions to our participant base, we have seen some really interesting materials listed as available and wanted. Check it out now, or sign up today

BlogKatie Duffy
Smarter Sorting & Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore Reuse over 13,000lbs of Household Hazardous "Wastes"

Something about the term hazardous waste tends to make people shudder and scrunch up their nose, which doesn’t help when you’re trying to find sustainable solutions for these materials. The Austin Materials Marketplace team loves a challenge (and to boast a bit when we’ve helped make an impact), so we jumped at the opportunity to help de-stigmatize some of these materials and divert them to a higher and better use. We're ecstatic to share that we helped facilitate a partnership between two awesome Marketplace participants, Smarter Sorting and the Austin Habitat ReStore, that will continually move paints, fertilizers, automotive fluids, and other useful materials from the City’s Recycling and Reuse Drop-off Center to local builders, homeowners, and DIYers.

Smarter Sorting, a hazardous waste sorting startup, broke ground on their pilot project with Austin’s Recycling & Reuse Drop Off Center in 2017. Their data-driven technology empowers Household Hazardous Waste facilities to more effectively determine what goes where, which increases accuracy and efficiency. Once the hazardous waste is identified, Smarter Sorting uses the data it collects to identify end-market opportunities for these materials - saving city money and increasing reuse rates. Smarter Sorting joined the Austin Materials Marketplace program in February of 2017, and were quickly matched up with the Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a brick-and-mortar retail chain that sells a variety of reclaimed and reusable materials. This now includes materials that Austin residents unload at the city’s drop off center, often half-full containers of popular wood stains, paints, automotive fluids, and solvents. This partnership is truly closing the loop on hazardous waste streams in Austin by sending reusable products back into the market instead of to the incinerator.

To date Smarter Sorting has diverted around 13,000lbs from Austin’s Household Hazardous Waste site to the Austin Habitat ReStore - saving the city & taxpayers around $9,000, generating approximately $16,000 in revenue for Austin’s Habitat ReStore and avoiding a significant amount of carbon emissions. And to make things even better, the ReStore’s revenue will be used to further their mission of providing safe and stable homes for members of our community who need it most.

Next time you make your way to Austin’s Recycling & Reuse Drop Off Center to drop off materials you can rest assured that the center will dispose of what they have to in a safe way, and Smarter Sorting’s technology will enable the city to divert reusable products to the Austin Habitat ReStore to be sold at a fraction of retail value. The future is looking bright for hazardous waste in Austin, and Smarter Sorting is looking to build on this partnership and others to bring reusable hazardous waste back where it should be - in the hands of consumers.

From Bucket to Farm to Table - Gardopia Gardens transforms barbecue sauce containers into self-irrigated planters

Gardopia Gardens joined the Materials Marketplace program in late April to source materials to help with their efforts to create a healthier, more educated, and environmentally sustainable community. In May they picked up 105 donated buckets from Austin Business Recycling to repurpose into self-irrigated planters. Gardopia Gardens is handing out these planters to build out the local food movement. This transaction saved Gardopia Gardens around $550 in purchasing costs, diverted 70 cubic feet of materials from the landfill, and avoided approximately .493 metric tons of CO2 - a pretty successful connection across the board. And the icing on the cake is that these materials will be reused in a way that promotes beneficial lifestyles, communities, and food systems.

Interested in starting transactions like these that will save on money, carbon emissions, and materials sent to the landfill? Check out what we have available in the Marketplace or get in touch with what you are looking for - we are always happy to help.

Inspiring zero-waste innovation at the intersection of business, policy and oyster shells

The City of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance supports Austin’s Zero Waste goal by requiring affected property owners to ensure that tenants and employees have access to convenient recycling. The ordinance also includes an Organics Diversion component which requires food permitted businesses to reduce or divert organic material away from the landfill. Businesses can meet this requirement through various approaches including leaner supply-chain management, composting organic materials, donating edible organics, or by finding reuse opportunities, a specialty for the Austin Materials Marketplace team.

Quality Seafood Market provides Austinites with the freshest possible seafood and has been doing so for almost 50 years. They run a tight ship that expertly maneuvers obstacles to serving up seafood to Central Texans, but the organics-related requirements in the URO created a new challenge for Quality Seafood. They generate a significant amount of byproducts from their seafood preparation including heavier items such as oyster shells and smellier items like fish parts - by-products that are inedible to most Central Texas animals, and difficult and rather expensive to compost. Owner Carol Huntsberger noted,

“Quality Seafood Market is dedicated to finding the highest and best use for all products without sending them to the landfill. The Austin Materials Marketplace program is helping us to achieve that goal.” 

Quality Seafood Market joined the Austin Materials Marketplace to develop and implement pro-environment AND pro-business solutions for their hard to divert materials. The Austin Materials Marketplace team has been working on finding reuse opportunities for these materials that save on disposal costs for Quality Seafood while also helping the restaurant meet the organics diversion component of the URO. The team explored several reuse options including loading up empty trucks and sending the shells to the gulf for oyster reef restoration projects, and using ground up shells to enhance soil and animal feed. However, the logistics for each solution have been challenging to incorporate into Quality Seafood’s operations.

We were thrilled when Munkebo Farm joined the conversation and brought a new reuse idea to the table - to use these shells as road base. Munkebo Farm picked up 3000lbs of oyster shells from Quality Seafood to use on their farm’s road, which saved on costs for both parties, diverted around .7 tons of CO2 emissions, and created a road made of natural materials that won't leach harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment.

Interested in using oyster shells for landscaping purposes? Have another creative idea for materials available in the Marketplace? Login to your account and start a transaction.

Granite Dust for Healthy Soil

Granite Recyclers Austin is an Austin-based recycling and remanufacturing business that produces solid stone products like fire pits, pavers and split-faced tiles from 100% pre-consumer granite by-products generated by other Austin stone businesses. Their business, which we’ve covered in the past on our blog, plays an important role in helping other businesses in Austin divert waste from landfill and into higher and better use.

The focus today though is on another aspect of their business - and that’s the efforts they’re making in their own operations to be a zero-landfill business. The specialized machinery used by Granite Recyclers Austin produces two by-products: granite rubble and cutting sludge, which is dried and sifted to form a dust-like soil amendment.

Through the Austin Materials Marketplace program, Granite Recyclers Austin has been able to find reuse opportunities for both of these waste streams, approximately 13,500 pounds so far, including a connection made this week with the Compost Coalition for the granite dust.

Granite dust contains many nutrients and minerals that can be easily absorbed by plants. This soil amendment improves plant structure, increases resistance to pests and disease, and creates more intense flavors in fruits and veggies. This material was a perfect fit for the Compost Coalition, a grass-roots, volunteer network whose mission is to divert organics from the landfill back into our soil. Last week, the Compost Coalition picked up approximately 20 pounds of the dust to distribute to local community gardens, including a new project to create organic food gardens in underserved areas in Austin.

Give us a shout to learn more about getting involved in the Austin Materials Marketplace.