Skip to Content

Full Circle: Breaking Down Austin’s Waste

Break It Down

Tribeza Talk: An insider’s guide to Austin’s hidden gems

Austin is a food town, but what happens to all that food waste? As a graduate student at UT Austin, this was something that perplexed Melanie MacFarlane. “I was working part time at a local yoga studio, and we would serve chai tea after each of the classes in these compostable cups,” MacFarlane says. But the cups were just winding up in the trash. Recognizing that composting needed to be made easier, in 2009 MacFarlane and her husband, Jeff Paine, started Break It Down, a composting and recycling service. Today they work with some 200 businesses and restaurants, including Home Slice Pizza, Odd Duck, and Bouldin Creek Café, composting over a thousand tons of waste a year. For more information, visit

Read more from the Food Issue | April 2016