City’s multi-family mandate for recycling drawing nearer

The City is urging landlords to start thinking about recycling sooner than later as the deadline nears for new mandatory recycling rules in multi-family units.

“What we’re trying to do right now is encourage all the building owners or their designated management group to find a recycling option for their residents that works best for them and their building type,” said Parnell Legg, waste diversion specialist with the City.

Under the new rules, which take effect Feb. 1, 2016, every multi-unit complex (defined by the City as condos, apartments, townhouses or any other building or development with five or more units) will have to provide on-site recycling of the same materials accepted in single-family Blue Cart recycling.

Each complex can decide how and where to store recycling, and whether to hire a company to recycle it or do it themselves. Building owners or managers will be responsible for choosing the recycling method and negotiating contracts. It’ll be welcome to condo owners looking for ease of recycling.

“From my point of view, it’s as simple as waste reduction,” said Dawn Arnal who lives in a southwest condo. “Our complex alone has five buildings ranging from 60-80 units each. That’s a lot of unnecessary waste that could be recycled and put to better use.”

The new rules are part of the City’s 80/20 objective to send 80 per cent less waste to landfills per person in 2020 than it did in 2007.

According to the 2014 Civic Census, of Calgary’s 478,223 dwellings, more than 20 per cent (102,028) are defined as apartment-style homes, with another 10 per cent as townhome-style homes.

The impact of providing such a large portion of the city’s population with easier access to recycling isn’t lost on Legg. “It’s really about getting a diversion option available to all residents in Calgary so they’re able to do the right thing with their recyclables and get them out of the waste stream and out of the landfills, which all contributes to our 80/20 goal,” said Legg, who estimates the amendment will help divert roughly 12,000 tonnes of material from local landfills.

Cochrane recently enacted a similar amendment, mandating recycling collection services for all multi-unit properties by June 1. Under the new bylaw, all properties must submit a recycling plan to the Town for approval before the mandated start date. Each property has the flexibility to find their own service provider.

“Cochrane residents have very high rates of participation in recycling programs. It was the right time to make it easier for people living in multi-unit complexes to recycle,” said Cochrane Mayor Ivan Brooker, noting the revised bylaw also helps move the town closer to the goals in its Zero Waste Framework.

Multi-unit properties represent approximately 15 per cent of residential dwellings in Cochrane — slightly more than 1,000 residential units. Depending on the property, 22 to 45 per cent of waste from multi-unit properties is actually recyclable material.

Harvest Recycling is one of a number of providers already serving some Calgary condo owners with weekly curb-side recycling. Vice-president of operations Peter Olorundimu anticipates a rise in demand as the deadline draws near. “The demand has been good – demand has been increasing – but people who live in multiples are still not as aware of what’s coming as they should be,” he said.

“I think by [next February], more people will be informed and as the awareness increases. People will definitely have a chance to do more.”

For more information on multi-family recycling in Calgary, visit or contact 311.