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How Three Cities Are Tackling Apartment Recycling

Apartment Recycling

Digested from “Multifamily Recycling: Challenges and Strategies” in Waste 360 (7/14/16) by Karidis, Arlene

A lack of incentive, resident turnover and infrastructure problems can conspire to keep recycling rates lower than they could be in apartment communities. Waste-management representatives from San Francisco, Seattle and Montgomery County, Md., share what they are doing to boost recycling rates in multifamily housing.

San Francisco: Recology San Francisco, which handles the city and county’s recycling, educates the public about sorting recycling from the waste stream at parades, block parties and other community gatherings. The company also provides onsite training to building owners and managers interested in improving recycling.

Seattle: Like San Francisco, Seattle has found success in consumer education, mailing recycling-education materials directly to apartment residents. It appears to be working: Multifamily-housing residents are landfilling almost the same amount as those in single-family homes; typically, multifamily-housing residents create much more waste.

Montgomery County: In 2014, the recycling rate for multifamily households was 27 percent, compared with 61 percent for all types of homes. To boost recycling in multifamily housing, the county is helping individual property owners improve their recycling infrastructure. For example, the county provides individual apartment units with a handled, six-gallon recycling bin to help residents divert their recycling.

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