Effective Recycling Programs
Apartment and HOA communities with strong recycling programs are committed to reducing and diverting the volume of recyclable waste taken to landfills. Communities can improve their recycling program by implementing the three keys to effective recycling programs:
- Commitment to the environment
- Clear Communication
- Community Cooperation
In communities with effective recycling programs, the entire community is encouraged to cooperate in recycling sustainability efforts. A big factor in relaying your commitment to the environment is to communicate the resident’s role in the larger recycling process. Posting signs around your community is the easiest way to do this. A higher visibility of recycling signs helps reinforce good habits. Communities can reach their program goals by creating a culture of conscientious residents. This culture is established by educating residents about the benefits of recycling. (Learn more about the different types of waste here.)
Communities with strong recycle programs also empower their residents to cooperate in their recycling goals. Managers can make it easier to recycle by providing enough recycle bins placed in convenient locations. This may require requesting recycling bins from your hauler, increasing the number of recycling bins or changing their location.
Deciding how to improve your recycling program
Options for improving your recycling program will vary from city to city depending on state recycling legislation and local hauler franchise agreements. Legislation in California aims to curb the volume of waste that ends up in landfills. By regulating the amount of waste that is diverted from landfills, environmental agencies like the EPA and CalEPA can continue to improve the waste disposal industry in California.
The first step to improving your current recycling program is to understand your community’s waste needs by performing a waste optimization assessment which balances your community’s needs with the services your hauler provides.
The two most common forms of recycling available to residential communities in California are:
- MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) allows residents to throw all their waste in the designated solid waste bins. Haulers pick up the solid waste and take the waste to a materials recovery facility to be sorted. Watch this informative video for more information on the MRF process.
- Clean Recycling is the method that uses designated recycle bins for consumers to separate trash from the recyclable material while they are throwing it away. Haulers pick up the different recyclables in their designated bins and send the sorted waste to the appropriate recycling facilities. The most common bins in large communities are “single-stream” recycle bins which will accept glass, cardboard, aluminum, and plastic in the same container.
Once you have established the way your community recycles, you can implement a plan to improve your community’s commitment, communication, and cooperation. Even for communities in cities that use the MRF system, posting educational information and signs as well as providing designated recycle bins may be beneficial for the following reasons:
- Recycling laws in California are likely to become stricter which may soon restrict or ban the MRF process altogether. Anticipating these changes now, by implementing clean recycling services, may avoid the hassle of future changes.
- Conscientious residents like to know they are recycling. In communities that utilize the MRF process, residents may be unaware that they are recycling. Posted signs can assure residents of their community’s commitment to the environment. Having designated recycle bins, however, is more impactful as it shows residents that management is committed to recycling.
No matter your current recycling situation, every community can implement or improve their recycling program. Managers can help communities improve their recycling program by focusing on the three keys: commitment, clear communication, and community cooperation.