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Multi-family recycling program tips

Since Feb. 1, 2016, all multi-family buildings must have recycling for residents. We're here to help building owners and managers create successful recycling programs in their complexes.

Although not mandatory requirements, below you will find suggestions to help promote recycling in your building, encourage the proper use of bins and prevent contamination issues. For more details about the full requirements of multi-family recycling, visit our building owners and managers page.

Make your recycling area easy to use for residents

Place bins in convenient areas for your residents
We suggest working with your recycling provider to find an area that is close to the dwelling units or near a common area where residents frequently travel. If the garbage and recycling bins are not located in the same area, place a waste container next to the recycling bins.

Make the recycling area prominent and visible
Make sure residents can recognize the recycling area at a distance. Ensure the area is well lit and tidy. Use similar types of bins for storing recyclables. Consistency between the bins reduces confusion about where recyclables belong.

See more examples about where to store recyclables in your complex, including picture examples, on our multi-family building owners and managers page.

Tell your residents about the recycling program

Provide each unit with an information package that explains the following:

  • What items can and cannot be recycled.
  • How the items should be prepared and sorted.
  • Where the recycling bins are located.
  • How to get rid of common items (e.g. furniture, electronics, motor oil, household chemicals) not accepted in your garbage or recycling.

We recommend that you continue to provide this information periodically throughout the year to residents.

Use signs, labels and posters
Post labels about what goes in each bin at eye level or on the front of each bin. Put up signs in your building's common areas (e.g. lobby, mailbox room, elevators, laundry and recycling rooms). Create posters using pictures to explain what can and cannot be recycled. Pictures are easier to recognize and help residents who may speak different languages.

Consider laminating or covering signs and posters with plexi-glass to keep them clean.

Check out our free templates, sample posters, and free image bank. Also, your recycling hauler may have information to assist you.

Encourage new residents to recycle
Provide new residents with an information package and offer a move-in tour to walk them through your garbage and recycling areas. Show them how your collection system works.

Consider giving residents a reusable tote bag or small recycling container to make recycling convenient and easy to do.

Train your on-site staff about the ins and outs of your program

If you have on-site staff such as maintenance staff or a property manager, explain how your building's recycling program works so they can help answer questions from residents and point out problems. Key information to pass along may include:

  • Where the recycling bins are located.
  • What can and cannot be recycled.
  • How residents should prepare materials for recycling.
  • How to resolve common problems.
  • Contact details for your recycling provider.
  • Where to get more information.

Monitor your program and continue to educate

Regularly visit the recycling area in your building

  • Look for contamination inside the recycling bins and identify common items that are unacceptable. Educate tenants about these common mistakes with signage in the recycling area.
  • Check that the signs and bin labels are easy to read. Replace signage/labels that are faded or ripped.
  • Check that the recycling area is clean and tidy. Clear out any obstacles that make it difficult to access the recycling bins.

Provide regular reminders to residents

  • Keep residents up to speed by providing them with regular updates.
  • Post recycling reminders around your building highlighting what can be recycled or common unaccepted items found in the recycling.
  • Build pride by reporting how much residents are recycling. Create posters or letters to residents that explain how their recycling is adding up to make a difference.

Ask for feedback from your recycling hauler

Your hauler may be able to give you feedback on how the recycling program is going. Feedback might include comments on contamination, damage to bins and reasons for missed collection.

Ask your hauler to offer guidance and support. They may also offer additional resource materials that can be given to residents.