According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 52% of Americans live in multi-family homes. If all multi-family households participated in a recycling program, it would significantly reduce the nation’s waste stream. But apartment recycling can also have real, tangible benefits for landlords, property managers and the tenant community.
Here are just a few of the ways that implementing a recycling program for your apartment complex can help you save money and attract more tenants.
While there’s a cost to start a recycling program at your complex, there are also several ways that recycling can save you money.
As glass, aluminum and plastic make their way into recycling bins, the volume of waste ending up in your complex’s dumpsters will decrease. This means you may need less frequent trash pickups, which will cut waste removal costs for you in the long run. It might even free up enough space to switch to a smaller size dumpster with lower disposal fees.
Katelyn Fagan, who runs the blog What’s Up Fagans?, says that her family’s trash output has been cut in half since their apartment complex started offering recycling.
“We have significantly cut down our trash output by having recycling offered. We can go a few days now without having to take out our trash… We take out the recycling more often, and with more items, than we do our trash. This is because so many items come in boxes or plastic containers and we receive many items (in boxes) in the mail (like from Amazon Prime!). These bulky bottles and containers can now be recycled instead of filling up our trash bags.”
Katelyn Fagan | What’s Up Fagans?
Landlords can often sell recyclable materials that have a market in their area. Plastic, metal, glass and even cardboard can be sold to recycling facilities in many locations. Especially if you manage large rental properties, this can be a practical way to off-set some of your operating costs.
A simple way to make this work is to provide color-coded recycling bins for the materials you want to separate for sale. Research market rates in your area so you can focus your efforts on the most valuable items.
Diverting recyclable materials from landfills saves limited landfill space and prevents pollution. It’s also important for keeping waste disposal rates down. When landfills are full, the disposal rates go up for everyone as they’re forced to use alternatives. Recycling as many materials as possible in your apartment complex helps ensure that the cost of disposal does not increase as quickly in the future.
“Residents get confused when seemingly recyclable materials are in fact unrecyclable, so by increasing the range of accepted recyclables, the previously unrecycled material in the carts will not be considered contamination and will consequently decrease contamination rates.”
Michael Alexander, CEO | Recycle Away
In addition to the financial benefits, apartment recycling can attract new tenants and convince current residents to stay.
Our society is more environmentally-minded than ever, and many residents have grown to expect apartment recycling programs. In fact, many prospective tenants say they’d prefer to live in a complex that offers recycling, making this amenity a potential deciding factor during their apartment search. Starting a recycling program can help your property stand out from the competition, making it easier to fill empty units.
How often are your property’s dumpsters overflowing long before trash collection day? For most landlords and property managers, this is a common problem that can frustrate tenants and unintentionally litter your property. An apartment recycling program can go a long way toward reducing or even eliminating this problem. Less trash will leave your property cleaner and more inviting, keeping residents happy and making it easier to put your best foot forward with apartment-seekers.
Pro-Tip: If your dumpsters are overflowing on a regular basis, consider contacting your dumpster provider to upgrade to a larger size or schedule more frequent pickups.
When apartment recycling is easily accessible for all residents in a complex, it often becomes a group effort that brings tenants together toward a common goal. This community spirit helps tenants feel more connected to their current home and can decrease the likelihood that they’ll move.
If you’re convinced of the benefits of apartment recycling, then it’s time to learn how to get a program off the ground at your property.
If your trash service doesn’t offer recycling, research the recyclers in your area to find the one that’s right for you. If your trash service does offer recycling, you may be able to add the additional service for a discounted rate.
Even when tenants are eager to recycle, it’s important for landlords and property managers to make the process easy to understand. Based on her experiences as a tenant, Katelyn Fagan has the following tips:
- Put the recycling bins (and have multiple) right next to the dumpsters and make it clear on the bins what is and is NOT acceptable to be recycled.
- Also specify if it should be in a bag or not.
- Make sure bins gets emptied regularly as they can fill up fast.
- Encourage tenants to collapse boxes and plastic bottles and containers down as much as possible so many items can fit in the recycling bins as possible.
Katelyn Fagan | What’s Up Fagans?
Here are some other ways to simplify recycling at your complex:
Attach flyers about your new apartment recycling program to tenant’s doors and post them in all common areas if your building or complex has them. Encourage buy-in by talking up how the program will benefit residents.
And don’t forget to update online listings for your property to include recycling service as an amenity.
Every city has its own rules for what can and can’t be recycled at local facilities. When you announce your recycling program to tenants, include a separate flyer with a simple list of recyclable items they can keep handy.
More importantly, make sure that all recycling bins in the complex are clearly labelled with acceptable items. Replace labels when they become worn so that your program continues to run smoothly.
An apartment recycling program can have as many benefits for your complex as it does for the environment. For waste that can’t be recycled, our expert team is here to help with a dumpster. Already recycling at your properties? Share your advice in the comments.