Recycling and composting at multi-unit complexes can be challenging. We’re here to help.
If you are looking for guidelines for recycling or composting at an apartment or condominium complex, wondering why your apartment or condominium complex doesn’t have recycling or compost bins, or are finding a lot of trash in the bins and want to do something about it, Eco-Cycle can help.
Recycling and composting at apartment and condo complexes can be more challenging than at single-family homes for multiple reasons. Individual residents cannot sign up for services (that is done by the property manager), and trash, recycling, and compost containers in common collection areas often suffer from “the tragedy of the commons,” creating contamination issues. It can also be unclear as to which materials go where, and these common areas can lead to problematic illegal dumping.
The best way to overcome these challenges is for a caring resident to volunteer to work with Eco-Cycle to connect their fellow residents to educational information.
About Recycling Services for Apartments and Condos
Within the City of Boulder, the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance requires that recycling, compost, and trash services are provided at all multi-unit complexes. Signage with guidelines for each stream of material are required to be posted along with each corresponding bin or dumpster.
Elsewhere in Boulder County, services are not mandated, but many property managers opt to provide these services to residents who increasingly expect to be able to recycle and compost where they live.
What to Do If You Don’t Have Recycling Services at Your Complex
If you’re finding that you do NOT have services, first make sure to confirm that there truly are no services available. Walk around the property and check out each dumpster enclosure for recycling and/or composting bins. Oftentimes there are recycling bins in some enclosures and not others.
If you’re sure there’s no recycling service, talk to your property manager or homeowners association:
- If your complex is within the City of Boulder, both recycling and composting services are required by ordinance. Contact your property manager to discuss coming into compliance. If you encounter a problem, contact the City of Boulder.
- If your complex is located outside the City of Boulder, ask your property manager or HOA if they have looked into providing recycling and/or composting services. What are the costs and barriers or concerns?
- If your property manager or HOA is still not interested in providing recycling services, get in touch with Eco-Cycle staff about how to overcome your community’s specific barriers.
- Get your neighbors involved. Ask your neighbors to sign a petition supporting adding recycling and composting to your community. You may need to show the property manager or the HOA that there is strong support for adding recycling and/or composting service. Download a sample petition.
- Make a proposal. Present a proposal to your property manager or HOA board. You will need to do some research contacting different haulers to get estimates in order to prepare a proposal of costs and services.
What to Do If Your Complex Has Recycling and Composting but You Want to Help Your Neighbors Do Better
- Post recycling and composting guidelines above bins. If you have recycling and/or composting services at your complex but the bins are contaminated with stuff that isn’t recyclable or compostable, download our recycling guidelines and/or curbside composting guidelines and post them within the enclosure and in common areas in your building or complex to help your neighbors know the correct materials to place in each bin.
- Distribute a sample letter you to fellow residents, along with recycling and composting guidelines. Working with your property manager or HOA, send out a letter to residents notifying them your community is working toward Zero Waste and that you need everyone to participate. Include a list of resident contacts who can help with questions. Download a sample letter here.
- Educate your neighbors about recycling and composting. Once you’re fully in the know on all things recyclable/compostable, consider throwing a party, cookout, or potluck to talk to your neighbors about the importance of recycling and composting and to answer their questions. Download our Why Recycle? brochure and see our Why Compost? webpage to learn more.
- Use our sample welcome letter for new residents to inform them of the recycling and composting service. Download a sample welcome letter.
- Check the recycling, composting, and trash bins regularly. Notify your neighbors when there are nonrecyclable or noncompostable items in recycling/compost bins, or recyclable and compostable items in the trash. Print and hang or distribute our Dirty Dozen of Recycling and Dirty Dozen of Compost guidelines, which lists the most common contaminants.
How We Can Help
Contact us to learn more about how to educate your apartment or condo community on how to recycle and compost properly.