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Because You Asked

How To Get Recycling In An Apartment Building?

By Recyclebank |

Some apartments don’t offer recycling services. Here’s what you can do if yours doesn’t.


Dear Recyclebank: I am moving from a house where I had curbside recycling to an apartment where all they have is a dumpster for trash, and no recycling. What can I do to continue recycling at my apartment? –Debbie C.


Dear Debbie: If your apartment building doesn’t have a recycling program in place, you can take steps to make a positive change. Here’s what you can do:


1. Petition your building to start a recycling program.

2. Talk to your neighbors and rally them to the cause. There’s strength in numbers.

3. Help your landlord by doing some research into recycling-program options.

4. Submit your petition and your research results and talk to your landlord about options.

5. If all else fails, you can still take recyclables to drop-off centers on your own, or as a group.

6. Reduce the amount of waste you generate — recyclable or not.


In many cities and states, offering recycling services is required for multi-family housing units such as condos and apartments. For instance, the California governor signed that rule into law in 2011, and in New York City, recycling is required in apartment buildings. However, apartment dwellers in smaller towns and cities may still find that their building doesn’t offer recycling.


Your first step to get recycling service in your building is to check the local laws in your municipality and find out if your landlord is required by law to offer recycling bins. If it appears that recycling is required, contact your local department of sanitation so they can ensure that the building provides recycling bins and pick up.


If, however, the building isn’t required to provide recycling services, the landlord might be willing to make a change if enough tenants request it. Ask your new neighbors if they’d be willing to voice their opinions through a petition or a meeting with the building owner. To strengthen your case, you might want to help your landlord by researching the options and costs of city, or independent recycling services — and mention that offering recycling can make the building more attractive to potential tenants. Keep in mind that the expense might be passed on to tenants, but perhaps you can negotiate to have the landlord cover some of the cost, since they could also stand to benefit.


A lack of curbside recycling should not deter you from doing your part and recycling what you can, even if it might be a little more difficult. Invest in a recycling bin to keep in your kitchen, or in a closet, and find a local recycling drop-off facility to take recyclables to when the bin gets full. You and eco-minded neighbors might even be able to join forces to take turns making recycling runs, which would save gas.


Finally, since recycling can be a little more challenging for apartment dwellers who don’t have a recycling service, it’s a good chance to try to reduce the amount of waste you generate, whether recyclable or not. Buying more products in bulk, investing in reusable products, from water bottles to napkins, and buying beer or wine in refillable growlers rather than bottles and cans, are among the many ways you can cut down on recyclable and non-recyclable household waste.



Calling all apartment dwellers: What tips do you have for recycling in shared buildings? Share your suggestions in the comments.

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  • Y Y. 2 years ago
    I live in Manhattan, in a 7-story building that does not recycle. I don't know how the landlord gets away with it. I asked about it once, but he was evasive. I do not want to press him, and get on his bad side as an annoying tenant, but we are throwing away an incredible amount of cardboard, glass and plastic. I simply cannot collect it all and travel to Queens or wherever with all of it in a taxi twice a week to recycle it. I am willing to pay to have someone come pick it up from my apartment weekly, but cannot find any such services online. What are my options? This is going on several years. I'm not going to report my landlord. I just want to recycle. Carrying heavy amounts of glass and plastic to another borough in the winter (or even summer) is simply not an option. So what ARE my options?
  • Deborah W. 4 years ago
    Even if apartment buildings recycled cardboard that would be very good. I have lived in Western NY and most buildings do not recycle only the expensive complexes have bins or give recycle containers. Many of the building landlords don't live near their properties and are not going to change their ways and trying to get a petition going door-to-door, won't work - really stubborn and don't care enough. Laws have to be put into place in order for these recycling practices come about for apartment buildings near and around WNY.
  • Karen K. 4 years ago
    Our city will give you the curbside receptables--as many as you can stuff in your transport. As these are the size of regular garbage cans, any apartment building could easily amass enough for the building.
  • Erika O. 4 years ago
    My consume of plastic is very low, I avoid plastic bottles to the max. I collect the plastic or any recyclable items from the street and my friends, and every Friday or other Friday I take all to the recycling center. I do it cause I can't stand and hurts to see all those items go directly into the landfills. Follow us on Instagram @dogsdontlitter
  • Donna S. 4 years ago
    Our apt complex hauler has finally put a recycling bin it. And I take my plastics bags back to the store and reuse them.or recycle them easy to do.
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