The Raleigh, N.C., City Council last week opted to not mandate recycling for multifamily residents, although it will pursue efforts to educate residents and promote recycling.
Getting residents of multifamily units to recycle right comes with unique challenges. Unlike in the single-family home scenario, you can’t dangle carrots like monetary incentives for diverting. It’s not as easy to get in front of the tenant; the waste professional's customer is the property owner. And resident turnover is high, presenting more challenges. Even those who find ways around these barriers commonly face obstacles tied to infrastructure.
Three municipalities shared their multifamily recycling challenges with Waste360 and how they deal with them: San Francisco, Seattle and Montgomery County, Md.
In Raleigh, city leaders said they want to buy more educational materials about recycling to hand out at residential buildings.
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In a separate but related move, the council said it wants to change city codes to allow a private business to pick up and recycle clothing and other textiles that residents place at the curb. The company, which would be selected at a later date, would operate along the same pickup routes as the garbage and recycling trucks.
The council didn’t vote to enact either change immediately, but it instructed City Manager Ruffin Hall to include the extra recycling materials and dumpsters in his budget for the next fiscal year, which Hall will draft in the spring and the council will likely vote on in June.
Raleigh’s Waste Reduction Task Force suggested to the council in April that the city start the process of requiring residents to recycle. Mayor Nancy McFarlane said at the time that she and others on the council “have a little heartburn with the word mandatory.”
Some council members also said they were surprised that some apartment and condo buildings in Raleigh don’t offer recycling opportunities at all.