How do I recycle right in an apartment or condo?

Education is key when it comes to recycling in an apartment or condo building. Courtesy of Waste Management

Q&A with Karissa Jones  

Recycling in an apartment or condo can feel like an impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be. With just a little planning and education, you can be sure that you’re recycling right and doing your part to help the environment, no matter where you live. Read on for a few tips, tricks, and resources to get started:

Q: How do I know what’s accepted in my property’s recycling program?

A: Follow the recycling guidelines on decals applied to recycling containers. Be sure to follow instructions carefully to avoid contamination. You can also check out wmnorthwest.com where you’ll find many resources, including collection guides, a recycling 101 video, and other tips such as how to reduce food waste.

Q: How do I make recycling simple and easy in an apartment?

A: The key to recycling right is to get organized. First, be sure you have separate containers for recycling and trash that are clearly labeled and placed side by side. Second, keep a list of what’s accepted in an accessible location, such as on the refrigerator. Lastly, share your recycling knowledge with others in your home. Review the recycling guidelines with your family or roommates and provide feedback when the wrong items end up in the recycling. You can download and print your local recycle guide at wmnorthwest.com.

Q: What if my building doesn’t offer a recycling service? 

A: If your building doesn’t offer recycling services or you would like to see services expanded, talk to your property manager about the many benefits of recycling, including saving money. You can also enlist your family, roommates, or other tenants to reach out as well. There’s power in numbers!

Q: If I see contamination in a recycling container, what should I do?

A: This one can be tricky but is important for sustainable recycling at your property. If you see a neighbor putting the wrong items in the recycling, offer friendly tips on how to recycle right. If this is not possible, notify your property manager and encourage them to provide timely feedback to residents via email, a bulletin board notice, or signage near recycling containers.

Q: How do I help others learn how to recycle right?

A: Many people are willing to recycle; they just need a little help. Encouraging those around you to start recycling right will have a big impact! The first step is to help them understand the three most important rules to recycling:  

Recycle all empty cans, plastic bottles, paper, and cardboard.

Keep food and liquids out of the recycling.

Keep out plastic bags: Empty recyclables directly into the container. No bagged recyclables.

You can also refer them to wmnorthwest.com to download a recycling guide and take advantage of all the resources Waste Management has to offer.

Q: What should I do with things that can’t be recycled at my property?

A: Some items are recyclable, but not accepted in your WM container and must instead be taken to a drop-off location.  Visit 1800Recycle.wa.gov to search by zip code for specialty recyclers near you.  

If you’re an apartment or condo dweller I hope these tips were helpful. Here is one final tip to make sure you’re recycling right no matter where you live:

If you’re not sure if something is recyclable, check your local guide. When in doubt, throw it out! It’s better to throw something in the trash than avoid the risk of contaminating otherwise good recyclables.

Karissa Jones is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager.

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