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Ask Habitat: Is There a Way to Make Our Building's Recycling More Efficient?

New York City

Ask Habitat: Recycling Workshop
Sept. 22, 2014

But educating residents about recycling is about more than good feelings. Improved recycling can mean money in the bank, and not just from fewer fines for improper recycling, says a program manager for the initiative.

"Over-Recycling" Is a Problem

Often, people in the building are recycling, but they're putting the wrong things in the bins, so the super or the staff has to spend a lot of time slogging through it and pulling out contaminants so they can put recycling out at the curb and not be ticketed. Residents don't know the building staff spending using so much time cleaning the garbage out of their recycling, rather than on other tasks

Apartment Building Recycling Initiative meetings are held monthly at the Lower Manhattan office — the next one is Oct. 21 — but if your co-op or condo can get 10 or more staff members or residents to attend, DSNY may be able to hold a session at your building. Those who attend the seminars are often staff, residents, managers or board members. About 6 to 12 people attend each session.

What You'll Learn

As part of the program, DSNY staff members also make a visit to a participating building to see the condo or co-op's recycling in action. There they can often make very specific suggestions on how to make it work better.

At the seminar, attendees learn what is supposed to be recycled and — almost as important – what is not. According to the representative, people often over-recycle plastics — for example, you should not be recycling yogurt containers, plastic bags, or clamshell-type packages.

Another important lesson taught at the seminars is how to communicate with residents, since it can be difficult to find the people who are not recycling. The seminar also teaches participants how to create a well-functioning recycling room, making sure that everything is well labeled and easy to understand. If you set up a good recycling center, more people will cooperate, according to the DSNY.


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