Have you ever tried to start recycling at your property management business, but not been able to implement a program that sticks? We know that carrying out a strategic recycling program while dealing with tenant turnover, varying levels of recycling awareness, and a wide array of waste materials can be a big undertaking. This is why, on average, property management businesses send a significant amount of waste to landfills. In this post, we'll teach you how to streamline your waste operations and start a recycling program that will encourage your tenants to recycle. Keep reading to learn more and let us know what you think!
what we know about recycling at apartment buildings
The EPA estimates the average American generates about 1.5 tons of solid waste every year, 75% of which is recyclable. This means those who manage apartment buildings and similar properties have the opportunity to recycle a significant amount of their tenant's materials including glass, plastics, aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, and newspapers. By setting up an intuitive recovery program, your property can recycle more, and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. But sometimes getting buy-in from your tenants can be an entirely different challenge.
Here are the top 7 ways to encourage your tenants to recycle:
1. CONVENIENTLY STAGE YOUR EQUIPMENT
Stage your recycling containers in common areas so tenants have access to recycling throughout your whole property. Always place the recycling containers in the same areas as your waste containers, so it's easy for tenants to recycle when they take out the trash. It's also important to provide each of your tenants with an easy-to-store recycling and waste container for their kitchen or desk area. With a container available in-unit, recycling will become second nature!
2. ADOPT THE CLEAN STREAM RECYCLING METHOD
One of the biggest concerns for property managers is recycling contamination. Most contamination comes from single stream recycling, which refers to the standard recycling method in which all recyclables are mixed together in one container. It may seem like a logical technique for collecting the most materials, but recycling is only effective if all the materials remain clean. To reduce contamination and maximize your recycling rate, property managers should adopt the clean stream recycling method. This involves using multiple bins to collect different recyclable materials - paper, cardboard, commingled, and landfill (for everything your business can't recycle). By using the clean stream recycling method, you and your tenants can be sure that all of your valuable materials are actually being recycled!
3. MAKE IT EASY FOR YOUR TENANTS TO RECYCLE
Designing user-friendly collection points accompanied by educational signage is another important piece for getting tenant buy-in. Here are two of the most impactful ways to accomplish this:
1. Placing posters and signage near each recycling bin is useful for raising awareness and reducing confusion.
2. Color-coding the bins, signage, and stickers for each waste and recycling stream across all points of the facility makes it easy for your tenants to distinguish which bins to use for each stream type.
4. COMMUNICATE THE LAUNCH OF YOUR RECYCLING PROGRAM
In the days leading up to your recycling program launch, send out a memo to your tenants, employees, and custodial staff that explains what your business' goals are and what they can expect from your program. Let them know how excited you are to kick-off of your new recycling efforts, and that you hope they are too! After the launch, it's key to continue communicating valuable information, like diversion rates or program updates, using newsletters, bulletins, and flyers to keep your tenants engaged and motivated.
5. EDUCATE YOUR TENANTS
One of the main reasons some people don't recycle is due to lack of recycling knowledge. At least once a year, send out a flyer or email about the basics of your program including where your collection areas are located, what can and cannot be recycled, and other information related to best practices. New residents should get an information sheet about your program and a walk-through of "how it works" when they move in. It's also a great idea to send out ongoing educational reminders in your company's newsletter or social media outlets. Always make sure that the information you share is clear, concise, and to the point!
6. MAKE RECYCLING FUN
Who says recycling can't be fun? Before the kick-off of your recycling program, host a launch-party for your tenants to come and pick up their personal recycling containers. Get creative and develop games that relate back to your recycling program. Her are a few fun and interactive ideas:
- Time how long it takes for tenants to break down their cardboard boxes.
- Play a Recycling Facts Trivia game.
- An arts and crafts center with recycled construction paper for children.
Add some competition to the games by offering a $20 gift card for whoever breaks down their cardboard the fastest, or for whoever wins Recycling Trivia. It doesn't have to be a huge investment to make recycling fun, but it's something that will get your tenants excited to recycle and begin making a positive impact! Hosting a party is also a great opportunity to share more information about your program and give your tenants the chance to ask questions.
7. ENCOURAGE FEEDBACK
Since your tenants are the ones using your program, encouraging them to provide feedback is a great way to ensure your program is always improving. Include a friendly note at the bottom of your email newsletter, or a link to a survey, asking them to explain the pros and cons of your program, and/or how it can be made easier. Then begin working on the feedback right away!
We find that most residents are eager to recycle once they have the proper tools to do so! What kind of response have you seen from your tenants? Let us know in the comments below. If you need help setting up a recycling program at your property management business, view our waste and recycling services for Property Management Businesses and set up a meeting with one of our recycling experts today!