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[GreenYes] Re: Language/Wordsmithing for Multifamily Recycling

Title: [GreenYes] Re: Language/Wordsmithing for Multifamily Recycling

Dear Emily,

I work with multi-unit apartment buildings here in New York City,
which also has a mandated residential recycling program for all
residents, regardless of the type of building they live in.

The NYC Apartment Building Recycling Initiative (ABRI) is a program to
help residents, building staff, and real estate managers of apartment
buildings comply with NYC’s mandatory recycling law.  I’m the ABRI
program manager and have worked with a number of participating
buildings on language to encourage compliance.  I have a few

First, in addition to a letter to all current residents, I would
suggest that your building managers be pro-active by adding a rider to
rental leases, and a clause to coop and condo by-laws.  These
documents should state that new residents have been given recycling
educational materials and have been shown where and how to recycle.
Such materials also establish that residents understand that it is
their obligation to follow the rules the building has established.  If
possible, the documents should be signed by the new resident.   If
there is a need, the management might think about creating a system of
fines or other enforcement tools, such as not returning a portion of
their security deposit for each documented infraction.  In apartment
buildings, it is often difficult to document an infraction, but
finding a piece of mail in the trash if junk mail is collected as
recyclable paper is one method to attribute noncompliance to a
particular resident.

Here’s some draft language:

Ann Arbor has a mandatory residential recycling program that requires
all residents to separate designated materials from their waste in
their homes for recycling.  1234 Channing Street, in order to comply
with the law, has established the following protocols for recycling
within the building which all residents, housekeepers, guests,
subtenants, and homecare workers MUST follow as described below:

            Etc. (fill in with your recycling requirements)

            New resident: please initial and sign where indicated:

I have been given educational materials that explain what materials
should be sorted from my trash ____(initial)

I know where to bring my recyclable materials and other trash within
or outside the building _____(initial)

I understand that recycling is the law and that I must comply with the
building’s system for complying with the law

____________________________________________________(signature of new
resident)  ______________________(unit #)

Second, make sure that all apartment buildings keep their common
recycling areas clearly identified, and the bins clearly labeled and
emptied regularly.  The Apartment Building Recycling Initiative was
developed as a result of some dramatic findings from NYC’s 2004-2005
Waste Characterization Study.  In that study, we found that buildings
that had clearly labeled bins and clearly identified Recycling Areas
had, on average, diversion rates that were 7 percentage points higher
than buildings that did not have these characteristics. (Results were
statistically significant at 90% confidence).  New York City has for
years provided Recycling Area signs and bin decals for recycling at no
cost to all buildings.  The ABRI program is a new initiative to get
residents involved with building management to post those signs and
decals (among other efforts).

Third, if contamination and participation are the problem, maybe more
than a letter is needed.  Gather together examples of recycling do’s
and don’t’s and set up a table in the lobby of the building either
during the weekend between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or weekday evenings
between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.  Put up a notice that you will be in the
lobby a few days ahead of time.  There is nothing like a real
discussion with people to straighten out misconceptions about what is
and is not recyclable and to replace confusion about recycling with
confidence and enthusiasm.

One of the objectives of the NYC Apartment Building Recycling
Initiative is to place a recycling expert in every apartment
building.  It is a classic “train the trainer” structure. We offer
intensive training sessions every two months and recruit by mail, web,
and word of mouth. Since November 2006, we’ve had 249 buildings enroll
representing 19,630 units of multi-unit housing!  If there is a
similar program in Ann Arbor, I would promote it to the buildings and
building managers you are working with.


Eve Martinez

Outreach Specialist

Recycling Unit


recycle more, waste less!

NYC Department of Sanitation
Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling
44 Beaver Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY  10004
t: 917.237.5667

f: 212.514.7812
e:  emartinez@no.address



On Jul 28, 9:36 am, Emily Hlavaty <emi...@no.address> wrote:
> I am working with residential multifamily locations that are having
> significant contamination problems, as well as an overall lack of
> participation issues in their recycling programs.  I am in the process
> of drafting a letter that will be included with the move-in recycling
> information distributed to new residents by management offices.  The
> aim of the letter is to outline to residents how correctly participate
> in the provided recycling program.  However in Ann Arbor,
> participation in the city’s residential recycling program in mandated
> through city ordinance.  I was wondering if other communities/cities
> with similar ordinances have property management companies which have
> included in their lease language signed by tenants/residents an
> explanation of why participation is required and how to correctly
> participate at their multifamily location.  What I’m wondering is,
> whether or not some of this language for multifamily recycling could
> be helpful in the letter I’m drafting.
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