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Multi-family recycling for building owners and managers

As of Feb. 1, 2016 multi-family complexes like apartments and condos are required to provide on-side recycling for residents.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for multi-family recycling. It requires flexibility and choice, which the private sector is best able to provide. Recycling companies will provide collection and processing. The City of Calgary will not collect recycling materials, but will provide communication, education and monitor compliance. You can learn more about the Waste & Recycling Bylaw.

Is your building a multi-family complex?

Looking for more tips and details?
Check out our multi-family recycling tips or
our Building Owners and Managers Guide

Waste & Recycling Services defines multi-family complexes as five or more units on the same parcel of land. This includes high-rise and low-rise apartments, townhouses, condos, mobile home parks, housing co-operatives and housing developments on private roads.

Your on-site recycling program

There are three things that you need to consider to ensure on-site recycling for your complex is meeting its full expectation:

1. Who - Decide who will provide recycling service

Think about how your recycling will be taken for processing. There are many private recycling companies that service multi-family buildings. Many will also give you support to find adequate storage opportunities and communicate with your residents.

You have the flexibility to find a company that can best serve your building's needs, and the freedom to manage the contract as you see fit. Green Calgary is currently maintaining a directory of private recyclers that service the multi-family sector.

You can also take your building's recyclables directly to a recycling facility or to a Community Recycling Depot if you or one of your residents hauls the material. This solution still needs to be coordinated with the residents of the complex as it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure material collected is taken for recycling. Please note that professional recycling haulers are not allowed to use the Community Recycling Depots.

2. What - Make sure you accept the right material

Your program must accept at least the same materials as blue carts. This means:

  • Paper: Newspaper, catalogues and magazines, mixed paper (like flyers, envelopes and office paper), shredded paper, telephone books
  • Boxboard and corrugated cardboard
  • Glass jars and bottles
  • Food cans and foil
  • Refundable beverage containers
  • Plastic containers with the recycling symbols 1-7, except polystyrene foam
  • Plastic bags
  • Juice boxes and soup boxes (such as TetraPaks™)

3. Where - Decide where to store your recyclables

You will need to find an on-site location to store your complex's recyclables. The location should be easy for your residents to use and have enough containers so that they are not overflowing between collection days.

What this space looks like will vary from complex to complex. Even if you don't have extra space where your garbage is stored, there are still a variety of solutions that could work for you. Private recyclers should be able to help you find a suitable storage location. For more tips on where to store recyclables, visit our multi-family recycling program tips.

How will this be enforced?

The City believes in an education-first approach to bylaw enforcement. We will strive to provide information about the bylaw requirements so a recycling opportunity is offered to multi-family residents.

If further steps are not taken, your building owner could be subject to a fine.

Why isn't multi-family recycling covered by property taxes?

Recycling collection in Calgary is not tax-supported for either single or multi-family homes. Blue Cart recycling is funded entirely through user fees, and recycling programs set up by multi-family complexes will be funded by the fees paid to service providers. The City of Calgary will not set or collect multi-family recycling fees, and taxes will not be raised to pay for the program.

What is the plan for food and yard waste?

The City is developing a bylaw that will require multi-family complexes to divert food and yard waste from landfills through composting and/or other means. This bylaw will be brought forward to Council in October 2016 for approval.

How do I get more information?

The Multi-family Recycling Education and Resources page has lots of tools to help, including posters and letter templates, and details about upcoming information sessions and other opportunities for assistance.

Subscribe to the multi-family update newsletter

For updates about multi-family recycling, please sign up to our email newsletter below:

Subscribe to Multi-family Recycling Email Newsletter


Other questions or feedback

If you have concerns about recycling in your building, we can help. Fill out the online request below or contact 311 and a Waste & Recycling Services representative will talk to you about your concerns and the assistance we can provide.

Multi-family Recycling Inquiry