Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Recycling and Waste

Recycling and Waste Reduction in Apartment Buildings

Most householders in Nova Scotia have access to recycling programs, either Blue Bag, Blue Box or drop off programs. Some apartment dwellers, however, are not able to take part in curbside programs for a variety of reasons. You can still practice the three Rs, though. Here's how you, too, can reduce, re-use and recycle your waste to cut down on the amount thrown away. It's better for the environment and the future of your province.

Reduce first. Not creating waste in the first place is the best way to deal with it.

Consider these tips:

Avoid disposables. Switch to reusables, like cloth napkins, at home. That cuts down on the amount of garbage created.

Buy durable products that are long lasting. It's no bargain to buy a cheap product only to have to replace it, and create garbage, after a short time.

Look for products and appliances that are easy to repair. Often times an appliance can be repaired to avoid throwing it away.

Avoid over-packaged products. Packaging accounts for one third of all our garbage. Not all of it is necessary. Choose products which are not excessively wrapped.

Reuse means giving a product or package a second chance instead of throwing it out after just one use.

Here are some re-use ideas:

Take your shopping bags back to the store when you go shopping. Reuse your plastic shopping bags or better yet, use cloth shopping bags which can be used over and over.

Send old furniture and clothing to a second hand shop or charity.

Look at renting equipment or pooling seldom used equipment with your neighbours instead of buying your own.

Repair rather than replace where possible.

Recycle even if you don't have access to a recycling program, you can still participate in recycling in your area. For example:

Patronize the Enviro-Depots. You can bring all your beverage containers to the Enviro-Depot to collect your refund. They also accept newspaper, corrugated cardboard and milk cartons for recycling.

As an alternative, donate your beverage containers to a charity to help with their fund raising. Scouts, Guides, sports clubs and other groups have been holding bottle drives for years. The expanded deposit/refund system now offers them more potential revenue.

Encourage your building owner or manager to start up a recycling program. Follow these simple steps to help you get started.

Starting Up an Apartment Recycling System

1. Discuss the idea with the building superintendent. He or she is familiar with your building, its tenants and how waste is collected.

2. Find out how garbage is handled now. Is each tenant required to bring his or her garbage to a central dumpster or are there garbage chutes on each floor? Is there a storage room in the ground floor or is garbage stored outside the building?

3. Contact your municipality to determine what recycling opportunities are available in your area. It makes sense to design your system around existing recycling programs.

Enviro-Depot operators and private recyclers also offer opportunities to recycle, too.

4. Design a recycling system that fits into your situation. For example, if each tenant places their garbage into a dumpster in the back of the building, then set up a separate container for recyclables, providing instructions on what should and should not go into it.

5. Prepare information for tenants on how the program is to work and why it is important to participate.

6. Launch the program. Use the tenants' association or internal newsletters to broadcast the program or, if the building is small enough, discuss it with your neighbours over the back fence or in the lobby.

7. Monitor the program to make sure everyone knows how to participate properly and receives information on how well they are doing.

8. Adjust the program to take any changes into account. Has the collection contractor changed? Does the new contractor handle garbage and recyclables differently? Are there different materials that can be recycled.

Recycling Options for Apartment Buildings

These ideas are meant as examples of what could be set up in your apartment. What your program ultimately looks like depends on your own situation.

Curbside collection similar to existing programs: Even though your building has private collection service, it may be possible to set out recyclables for curbside collection. Check with your municipality to see if this is possible and what is required.

Private collection of recyclables: The garbage collection contractor or other hauler may make special arrangements to pick up recyclables. Your job is to recycle the recyclables.

What materials can you recycle? That depends on the program setup in your area. Recycling needs a market for the materials collected to work. Different areas of the province may have established different markets for a variety of reasons. Check with your municipality to see what is available. In any case, beverage containers, newspapers, corrugated cardboard and milk cartons can be brought to an Enviro Depot for recycling.

Remember though, taking more responsibility for helping the environment isn't just about recycling. It's about practicing the 3 Rs to cut back on the amount of resources we waste.

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