Property Management Tips: How to Start a Recycling Program on Your Apartment Property

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The Houston Apartment Association has teamed up with the city of Houston to encourage the implementation of a more comprehensive recycling effort in multifamily properties with the Go Green Community program. The program seeks to establish recycling programs in 50 percent of its member communities by 2013.

The plan was unveiled by Mayor Annise Parker on “Houston Recycles Day” in November 2011, and followed the Environmental Protection Agency’s release a few days earlier of how well America is recycling.

The good news from the EPA report is that America is recycling more by volume, but collections for traditional staples like beer and soda cans and empty juice bottles are down. In 2010, Americans dumped a smaller percentage of those household items in brightly colored bins compared to highs posted since 2006.

Aluminum beer and soda cans were down more than one percent from 2009 and glass containers dipped three percent from a high of 36.6 percent in 2007. White translucent bottles – water bottles – dipped 3.5 percent from 31 percent in 2006. Are we getting complacent in tossing our empties? Or are we buying fewer bottles of water?

Minimal growth of curbside recycling programs since 2002 may indicate that recycling isn’t the hot item that it once was. Programs have only slightly increased since a huge drop from 2001, which the EPA attributed to consolidation and fewer states reporting data.

But recycling is still a very worthwhile cause, and an apartment community can make a big contribution. If fact, there is evidence showing that more renters want to do their part.

A 2009 Apartments.com survey showed that more than 60 percent of renters said they search for apartments that offer environmentally-friendly amenities and 25 percent are willing to pay more rent to live at an apartment community that considers the environment in their day-to-day community operations.

You could say that going green could help you make some green.

Start Your Recycling Program Today

Starting a program is easy and inexpensive:

Contact Your Waste Removal Provider

Your waste removal provider may have a recycling program or can put you in touch with a partner provider. There is often a cost to recycling pick up, so ask the provider what charge will be imposed on residents or the community.

Capacity and Convenience

Recycling should be easy for your residents, so place containers in a convenient location. Ideally, recycling containers should be located in the same area as the garbage containers or in common areas. You can place posters and signage near the recycling bins and in common areas. You can also place posters and signage near the recycling bins and in common areas.

Education

Send out a letter announcing the start of the program. Also, all new residents should get an information sheet about the recycling program upon move-in, and it’s a good idea to send out reminders via e-mail, social media, or newsletters on a regular basis. A downloadable door hanger is available through the HAA website, as well as other recycling tips.

A multifamily apartment property, with its population alone, can make a big difference in recycling. Property owners can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to be green by starting a program if it doesn’t already have one.

Does your apartment community have a program? What kind of response have you seen? How do you educate your residents?

Tim Blackwell

Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who provides online and print content in the multifamily housing, transportation and education industries. He is a published author and publisher for Cowcatcher Magazine, a regional rail enthusiast magazine distributed in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas and Missouri. Tim has worked as a reporter and editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Arlington Daily News and as Director Commercial Printing for The Dallas Morning News. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists and graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Communications.

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