Background on Multi-Family Recycling in Calgary
Convenient, on-site multi-family recycling is coming.
On November 4, 2014, Council approved an amendment to the Waste & Recycling Bylaw that will make it mandatory for multi-family complexes to offer on-site recycling of certain materials by February 1, 2016.
Previously, Waste & Recycling Services (WRS) focused efforts on reaching private recycling companies and building owners and managers to inform them of these changes and their roles. Beginning the week of February 16, 2015, WRS will run a campaign targeting multi-family residents to let them know that on-site recycling is coming and what they should expect.
All multi-family complexes will have to:
- Offer on-site recycling storage.
- Make sure there are enough containers to hold all the recycling in the complex between collection days.
- Accept at least the same material as blue carts (i.e. paper and cardboard, glass bottles and jars, food cans and foil and plastic bags and containers).
- Arrange to have the material removed and recycled.
Please note that because there are so many different types of multi-family buildings, flexibility and choice are core principles of the bylaw. Each complex can decide how and where to store recycling, and whether to hire a company to recycle or do it themselves. The City will not provide collection, but will support this initiative through education, communication and by monitoring compliance.
Find more information for building residents, building owners and managers and private recyclers at www.calgary.ca/multifamilyrecycling. Interested building owners or managers should contact 311 to start the application process.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: What is considered multi-family housing?
A: Waste & Recycling Services defines multi-family complexes as five or more units that share a common parcel of land or share a private roadway that provides access to the homes. This includes high-rise and low-rise apartments, townhouses, condos, mobile home parks, and housing co-operatives.
Q: How can multi-family complexes provide on-site recycling storage to their tenants?
A: Under the Waste & Recycling Bylaw amendment, multi-family complexes are required to provide on-site recycling storage and ensure that the material is taken to be recycled by either:
- Hiring a private company to collect and dispose of their recycling or
- Taking their material to Community Recycling Depots (CRDs) if:
a) They coordinate the collection (i.e. have a person in charge of collecting the material), and
b) The building owner, a resident or a maintenance person takes the material to the CRD.
Please note that recycling companies are not allowed to use the CRDs because the Community Recycling Depots are not intended to accept large volumes, this solution works best for small buildings. Larger complexes will probably find it more efficient to hire a recycler or take their material directly to a recycling processor.
Q: How will the bylaw be enfoced?
A: Enforcement will be complaint-based. After February 1, 2016, residents who are concerned that there is no recycling in their building should contact 311. The City takes an education-first approach. If a complaint is received, a representative from Waste & Recycling Services will contact the building owner to discuss potential solutions. Animal & Bylaw Services would only be involved if the building continues to remain non-compliant after that.
Q: Will anyone be exempt?
A: No. This bylaw will apply to all multi-family complexes.
Q: Will the community recycling depots still be there?
A: The City will continue to review the efficiencies and effectiveness of the community recycling depots. We are keeping a number of the community recycling depots in place for people who have too much recycling to fit in their blue carts as well as multi-family residents.
Since January 1, 2015, commercial recycling haulers have been prohibited from using the community recycling depots. This is to ensure collection and processing opportunities are fair and equitable.
Q: Will The City still collect multi-family garbage?
A: Yes. If The City collects a building’s garbage now, that will continue unless the building wants to switch to a private collector.
Q: Will multi-family complexes be able to get blue carts?
A: In most cases, no. However, condos that receive black cart service and can have recycling collected like a single-family home may be eligible for blue carts. They would still have the option of hiring a private recycler instead.
Q: What if there is a lack of space to store recycling?
A: The bylaw was deliberately written to be flexible about how and where recycling can be stored. Reasonable storage solutions should be possible for all buildings.
Here are just a few ways recycling could be stored in different building types:
- If there is more than one garbage container now, switch one out for recycling container(s).
- If there is only one garbage container but a little extra space in your garbage area, set up some smaller bins to collect recyclables.
- Recycling storage doesn’t have to be centralized. It is okay to have several smaller storage areas, such as on each floor of the building, in each building in the complex, or even in each unit.
- If two neighbouring buildings agree to work together, one could use their garbage enclosure for recyclables and the other for waste. All residents would need to be able to easily access both areas.
Private recyclers have repeatedly told The City that they are happy to work with buildings to find solutions that comply with the bylaw. The City also has education resources at Waste & Recycling Services that can support building owners or managers.
Q: What if we can’t afford or would prefer not to hire a private recycler?
A: Building owners and managers have the option to take material directly to a recycling processor or to a Community Recycling Depot themselves at no charge. It is important that this effort be coordinated (instead of having each resident do it for themselves), as it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that the containers are provided for storage and that material is collected for recycling.
Q: Why isn't multi-family recycling funded through taxes?
A: Recycling collection in Calgary is not tax-supported for either single or multi-family homes. Blue Cart recycling is funded entirely though user fees. 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.
Q: What if our landlord or condo board isn’t complying?
A: The multi-family recycling provisions will be effective February 1, 2016. After that date, enforcement will be complaint-driven, and concerned residents should contact 311. The first step will be to work with the building in question to help overcome any barriers to recycling.
Q: How do we find a private recycler?
A: Green Calgary is maintaining a list of local private recyclers. It is the building owner or manager’s responsibility to interview prospective service providers, manage the contract and address any performance-related concerns. The Multi-family Recycling Guide for Building Owners and Managers includes suggested interview questions that can be used during the hiring process.
Multi-Family Recycling - Report to Calgarians
Information for residents; building owners; manager and private recyclers. Guide for Building Owners and Managers
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.