Langley wastes not, recycles more

Apartments, condos and townhomes typically have low recycling rates, about half that of single-family homes.

So Metro Vancouver has developed the Multi-Family Recycling Toolkit, an online tool to help owners, stratas, managers and residents improve recycling in their multi-family buildings.

“Recycling systems vary between municipalities and individual buildings, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Malcolm Brodie, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee. “This new Toolkit points people to the tailored resources, signage and best practices for their particular situation.”

Metro Vancouver has various initiatives and programs to boost recycling by residents.

Typically apartment/multi-family residents do less recycling.

In 2013, the regional multi-family recycling rate was only 28 per cent, compared to 60 per cent for single-family dwellings.

The Multi-Family Recycling Toolkit asks users to identify their municipality, amount of units and type of collection system. It calculates an estimate for how many garbage, recyclable and food scraps bins are required and provides the appropriate downloadable handouts, posters and signage. These materials account for variations in municipal recycling systems. For example, a separate stream appears for municipal programs that offer glass collection.

People can find out about are presented with waste reduction resources like how to avoid unwanted newspapers and phone books, plus links to, to recycle non-blue box items like electronics or mattresses.

The Toolkit also provides building managers and motivated residents with guidance and templates they can use to build a recycling team within their complexes. Langley Township has its Recycling Ambassador initiative for multi-family sites to increase recycling rates.

“Research shows that the most successful multi-family programs have an engaged community and recycling champions,” said David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC. “Recycling can become a cause for like-minded residents to rally around, leading to improved recycling and a stronger sense of community.”

The Multi-Family Recycling Toolkit was developed based on pilot studies at five Metro Vancouver-operated multi-family housing complexes, signage efficacy research from Brain and Attention Research Lab of the UBC Department Psychology, and in collaboration with municipal staff.  

LandlordBC connected Metro Vancouver with building managers for user testing. Their feedback helped make the site even more user-friendly.

“With Metro Vancouver’s implementation of the organics disposal ban, now’s the time for buildings to take another look at their recycling situation,” added Director Brodie. “I encourage residents and management alike to take advantage of this opportunity.”

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