3. Get Your Facts Straight
The next thing you need to do is get down to the details. A property manager wants to see that recycling is feasible, and the company has a lot of potential obstacles to take into consideration.
“The main reason other management groups don’t recycle is they have to pay a separate waste disposal company to come get the recyclables,” the property manager in Dallas said. “The other reason, depending on the state, is in big communities your dumpster shouldn’t be out in plain view from the street.”
When older buildings were constructed, they didn’t leave space for recycling containers, so management companies often have to enlarge existing trash enclosures, which may be subject to approval by the city.
These are the main issues a property manager will be concerned with; cost, space and potentially city approval. While issues like space and city law may be out of your hands, you can try to do something about cost by demonstrating that recycling can be a cost-effective alternative. This is entirely achievable since recyclables don’t come with dump fees the way trash does, Schotsky pointed out.
Many apartment complexes pay for trash based on the number of dumpster pick-ups per week, so a good place to start to assess how much waste you are dealing with is to pay attention to how many times trash collectors come each week. If some of that trash is diverted to recycling, there will be less trash pick-ups needed and that money could be spent on recycling, which may be cheaper. The City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department calculates that a large apartment complex could save more than $150 per week if half of its trash pick-ups were converted to recycling pick-ups, though this amount would vary based on location and the amount of trash a complex generates.
One way to determine how much waste could be recycled is to actually take a look at the trash. At the University of South Florida, students tried multiple tactics ranging from having an intern monitor the waste stream to sorting trash bins in the quad. Since these things take time and effort, you might just consider assessing your own trash to see how much is recyclable and asking a few neighbors to do the same.
If you’re up for it, contact a couple recycling companies in your area to get quotes, suggested Dixon. That way you can go to your management company with specific options. You may also be able to find information about recycling rates on company websites.
Keep in mind, property management companies are happy to invest in recycling if it’s cost-effective. Equity Residential offers recycling to residents at more than 4 out of 5 of their complexes. “If we can do recycling economically, then we are all for it,” Schotsky said.