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Apartment Complex Recycling - A Step by Step Guide

Setting up a recycling program in multi-family housing complexes is well worth the effort because of the high concentration of residents and potentially large amounts of recyclable materials. If you are an apartment complex owner, manager or resident and would like to establish a recycling program for your property, here are some suggestions:

It's essential to have the support of the owner or homeowners association and building management. Building managers may need permission to update their hauling contract for their property and add recycling. If you have a homeowners' association, contact the president for approval.

To get the manager's support, point out that recycling means less trash is generated by the building. Immediate savings might be realized by having fewer trash pickups. Recycling means less garbage has to be buried in the landfill and manufacturing from recycled materials causes less pollution and uses less energy than manufacturing from raw materials. Additionally, recycling is a service increasingly requested and expected by residents.

The cooperation of the building maintenance staff is also important. Recycling does not mean extra work if they are already taking care of the building's trash.

Recycling in Fort Collins is single stream. This means that only two bins are needed - a trash bin and a recycle bin. The City encourages following these general guidelines for what is recyclable in Fort Collins. Interested in receiving these guidelines in either paper or metal for indoor and outdoor use? Contact us at 970-221-6288 or .

Contact private trash haulers, who also pick up recycled materials, for a quote for their services and the container options they offer for your property. Set up a meeting to have them explain the details of their program, answer questions and look over your complex. The type of container used on site will depend on the space available and the number of residents using bins. If you consider 96-gallon carts for recyclables, keep in mind that it is difficult to fit flattened cardboard into carts, and cardboard is banned from being placed in the trash in Fort Collins.

The trash hauler generally doesn't provide bins to be used by the tenant to carry their recyclables from their individual unit to the central outdoor storage location, but property managers may consider providing these as an extra incentive to recycle.

Important City ordinances that residents and staff should know:

  • In 2013, the Fort Collins City Council passed an ordinance banning the landfill disposal of cardboard. Cardboard may be reused, recycled, or composted, but may not be placed in a trash bin. This ordinance applies to residents, businesses, and all entities that generate cardboard waste.
  • In 2007, the City of Fort Collins passed an ordinance banning the landfill disposal of electronic waste. In 2013, the State of Colorado passed a law that also bans the landfill disposal of electronics. There are several electronics recyclers in the area.
  • Recyclables are typically stored and collected from the same enclosure as trash. In 2004, the City of Fort Collins required that all new multi-family housing locations include sufficient space for trash and recycling enclosures.  If your trash enclosure is not large enough to hold trash and recycling containers, consider decreasing the size of your trash bin (since many of the materials will now be placed in the recycle bin).

Once the system for collection is in place, it's time to inform residents and seek their participation. They will need to know what materials to collect, how to prepare them, and where to deposit them. The best way to reach residents is through direct contact. Provide information about what can be recycled and where recycling bins are located. Information can be left at each door or enclosed in a rent bill. Doorknob hangers can be used as reminders once the program has started. It's also a good idea to place recycling guidelines posters on or near recycle bins in enclosures as well as in common areas. Posters are available from the City for no charge through WRAP. Contact us at 970-221-6288 or at for more information.

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For additional information, or to schedule an on-site assessment, please contact Caroline Mitchell, environmental planner, at 970-221-6288, or via email at .