Multifamily Recycling: Case Studies in Success!

In the northwest, and here in Kirkland, we’re pretty into recycling. The City consistently has one of the highest single family recycling rates in King County. We have higher recycling rates than many parts of the country, and work hard to divert more things from the landfill, like food scraps and Styrofoam. And that’s awesome. But we still have room for improvement.

SF-vs-MF-recyclingSpecifically, recycling at businesses and apartments and condos in Kirkland could use some work. While single-family houses recycle about 68% of their waste, multifamily properties recycle only about 20%, and commercial properties about 24%. Improving recycling at multifamily properties is an ongoing challenge for local solid waste management jurisdictions throughout the United States, and an ongoing effort, too. King County is currently working to reach a 70% recycling goal, so we need to get recycling rates up in all areas to help meet our goal.

Why do multifamily properties recycle less?

Before and After waste enclosure area

An expanded enclosure at Plum Court allowed a switch to a recycling dumpster.

There are a number of reasons recycling rates tend to be lower at multifamily properties, like:

  • not enough space on site
  • recycling fills up too quickly
  • inconveniently located recycling dumpsters
  • dumpsters that are too tall to reach
  • more transient population that may not know the specific rules in the City
  • lack of knowledge – language barriers, don’t know what’s expected
  • large garbage dumpsters make it just as easy to throw stuff away
  • no financial incentive to produce less trash, because there’s no cost
  • and many more!

Still, we know that recycling at multifamily properties can be successful! We work to change behavior by reducing barriers that make recycling at multifamily properties less likely, and increasing the benefits of recycling with a variety of tools. Our staff work directly with multifamily properties to improve recycling. We offer personalized visits and customized programs to meet the needs of properties.

Multifamily Recycling Success Stories in Kirkland

Here in Kirkland, we’ve worked with many properties to successfully improve recycling! Here are four Kirkland properties that have increased recycling and saved money, too:

recycling relay game

Kids played a recycling relay game to test their recycling knowledge.

Kicking Recycling Off: Kirkland Heights

At Kirkland Heights, a 180-unit property in Kingsgate, the City worked with Waste Management and property management staff to develop a brand new recycling program. Residents attended a recycling kickoff party, where kids played recycling games and each household could take home a recycling guide and container for their home after pledging to recycle.

  • Added recycling dumpsters throughout the property
  • Increased recycling capacity from 0% to 40%
  • Reduced their bill by $1,600 a month – almost $20,000 a year!

Starter Kits and Service Tweaks: Cambridge Place / Village at Juanita

We worked closely with the property management team at Cambridge Place/Village at Juanita, a 130-unit condo and apartment complex, to increase recycling capacity and add compost service, while educating residents.

  • Added additional recycling carts to each enclosure and reduced garbage service
  • Added City-provided compost service
  • Residents coming into the office received free recycling and composting starter kits
  • Increased recycling capacity from 14% to 34%
  • Now saving $800 a month!

Because of the success of the program, property management is considering rebuilding the enclosures to accommodate recycling dumpsters, to meet the increased demand for recycling space.

Half the Trash: Brezza Condominiums

Brezza Condominiums in downtown Kirkland also found savings through increased recycling. They cut their garbage service in half, added compost service, and encouraged residents to increase recycling – and recycle the right way by breaking down boxes and keeping recyclables loose. The property also educates residents on additional waste reduction and recycling opportunities, like donating textiles to local thrift stores and bringing Styrofoam to the City’s Styrofest events. This effort has helped to save them $500 per month on their bill, too!

Poster: Recycling is Coming to Brookside ParkNot Just for Big Properties: Brookside Park

Small properties can benefit from recycling programs too. Brookside Park, a 16-unit condo complex in Moss Bay found they could decrease their garbage service after implementing recycling this year. The City provided recycling containers, guides, and posters to all residents, and helped the property go from zero recycling available to 48% recycling capacity, while also saving almost $100 per month on their bill.

Multifamily properties can pose a challenge in the recycling world, but can also be a real opportunity to educate and divert serious amounts of trash from the landfill. Do you need help increasing or improving recycling at your property? Check out the City’s Multifamily Recycling Toolkit and contact us at recycle@kirklandwa.gov for personalized help.

Let us help make your property a recycling success story!