Multi-family waste diversion program tips

As of November 1, 2017 multi-family complexes like apartments, condos and townhomes are required to separate food and yard waste from garbage for composting or diversion. For details see our Food and Yard Waste Requirements.

Similar to our Multi-family Recycling Requirements, building owners and managers have the flexibility to choose a food and yard waste service provider and decide the best way to manage the service.

Below you will find suggestions to promote waste diversion in your building, encourage the proper use of bins and prevent contamination issues.

Program resources

Find tools and resources, including guides for setting up a program, posters, letter templates and program tips. Visit Multi-family Diversion Resources.

Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive updates about multi-family waste diversion. Subscribe to our newsletter.

If you would have questions about a food and yard waste or recycling program in your building, we can help. Fill out the online request below or contact 311 and we can discuss how we can help.

Make your waste storage area easy for residents to use

Place bins in convenient areas for your residents

Food and yard waste bins, and recycling bins, should be as convenient as garbage bins. If the location is convenient, your residents are more likely to use it. Work with your collection company to find an area that is close to common areas where residents frequently travel.

Make the collection area prominent and visible

Make sure residents can recognize the area at a distance, and that the area is well lit and tidy.

If the garbage and food and yard waste bins are not in the same area, place a garbage container next to the food and yard waste bins.

This helps residents properly sort materials and reduce contamination going into the food and yard waste bin.

Tell your residents about the program

You must provide education to residents once per year as well as when a new resident moves in. See the Signage and Education Requirements.

A letter template for residents is available on Multi-family Diversion Resources.

You can provide each unit with an information package that explains:

  • What can be put in the recycling and food and yard waste containers
  • Why it is important to use the food and yard waste service
  • How the items should be prepared and sorted
  • Where the recycling and food and yard waste bins are located
  • How to dispose common items

We recommend that you provide this information during every year to remind residents of the requirements.

Use signs, labels and posters

You must provide signage on all collection containers. See the Signage and Education Requirements.

Here are some tips when creating signage for your garbage, recycling and food and yard waste containers:

  • Put labels at eye level and/or on the front of each bin.
  • Put signs in common areas (e.g. lobby, mailbox room, elevators).
  • Create posters with pictures to explain what can be put in the bins and hang them above each container.
  • Laminate signs or cover signs and posters with plexi-glass to protect them from the elements.
  • Check out our free templates and sample posters.

Your collection company may also have information or signage to help you.

Encourage new residents to properly dispose of materials

Provide new residents with an information package and offer a move-in tour to walk them through your collection areas. Show them how your collection system works.

Give residents a small kitchen pail to make food and yard waste collection convenient and easy to do. Consider giving residents a reusable tote bag or a small recycling container to make recycling easy.

Train your staff about your program

If you have on-site staff such as maintenance staff, landscapers, or a property manager, make sure they are aware of the diversion programs so they can help answer questions from residents and point out problems.

Key information to pass along may include:

  • Where the collection bins are located
  • What can and cannot be put in the bins
  • How residents should prepare materials
  • How to resolve common problems
  • Contact details for your collection company
  • Where to get more information

Monitor your program and continue to educate

Visit the collection area in your building regularly

  • Look for contamination inside the bins and identify common items that are unacceptable. Educate tenants with signs in the recycling area.
  • Check that the signs and bin labels are easy to read. Replace signage/labels that are faded or damaged.
  • Check that the collection area is clean and tidy. Clear out any obstacles that make it difficult to access the food and yard waste or recycling bins.

Provide regular reminders to residents

Well-informed residents will have fewer issues and know how to better use the recycling and food and yard waste programs in your building.

Keep residents up to speed by providing them with regular updates. In condos and townhomes, consider adding recycling, as well as food and yard waste as a standing agenda item.

Ask for feedback from your collection company

Your collection company may be able to give you feedback on how your recycling and food and yard waste programs are going.

Feedback might include updates on contamination, damage to bins, how full bins are, and reasons for missed collection. Pass along feedback to residents to further support waste diversion in your building.

Ask your collection company to offer guidance and support. They may also offer additional resource materials that can be given to residents.​​​