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Recycling in your apartment rental

recycling in your apartment rental

By Ted Whitehead

The phrase may be decades old, but “reduce, reuse, recycle” will stand forever as a mantra for consumer environmental conscientiousness.

Having effective waste management practices in place for apartment residents to use and follow is a mainstay of the Living GREEN Together (LGT) standards of practice recently added to the Certified Rental Building Program (CRBP).

The LGT guidelines include mandatory compliance requirements with municipal guidelines as well as providing residents with information on how to effectively recycle bulk items (eg. mattresses, old couches, etc.), old electronic items, hazardous waste, and more. If we all recycle effectively we reduce actual harmful garbage going to our landfills and provide the opportunity for reuse of old and redundant items. More importantly, you are contributing to a healthier and better environmental footprint for your apartment community. Living GREEN Together in a Certified Rental Building enhances the quality of life for all residents. Remember that providing “separating and recycling” programs for residents of apartment buildings is mandatory in Ontario. So if you are not living in a CRBP-approved building make sure your Property Manager is providing you with this opportunity.

In a CRBP apartment building, consumers can rest assured that recycling will be made as easy as possible, with property managers who will provide you with the appropriate information. In addition to placing recycle bins in handy places such as amenity spaces and close to exits, these professionals will encourage and enable participation from all residents, even those who have mobility issues.

As an apartment resident, you should take an active part in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” process in every way possible. Ask about documentation on what can and cannot be recycled and how to dispose of items such as CFL light bulbs, batteries, old electronics, and other hazardous waste.

CRBP member building owners/property managers can do their part to ease the way, but the actual practice of recycling is mostly up to tenants. In 2013, the Conference Board of Canada determined that Canadians throw away more garbage per capita than anywhere else in the world. Late last year, the Value Chain Management Centre estimated that Canadians throw away approximately $13.4 billion worth of food each year, or $384 per person annually. This level of waste is taking its toll on our environment.

Everyday practices that may seem minor are, in fact, important when you consider that hundreds of thousands of people live in apartment buildings in Ontario. Every bit you do is a step forward. Paper, plastic containers, jars, cans and the like can all be recycled. Remember, too, the “reduce” and “reuse” portions of the phrase. Do you actually need all of the paper and goods you bring into your home? Are there items you can use differently, such as turning shawls into window treatments or vases into flower pots?

Apartment-dwellers, particularly those in compact spaces, find that less cluttered rooms feel and live better. Maybe it’s time to go through all of your belongings and give, sell or donate the ones you no longer need/want. Check your building’s newsletters and bulletin boards for information on its recycling program and on things like which local not-for-profit organizations accept clothing, toys and household items for reuse or resale. There are fantastic websites for selling and giving away larger items as well, and social networking has opened up new doors for people looking to find good homes for the “stuff” they no longer want around. In addition, there may be neighbours right in your building who are interested in your items.

The main thing to keep in mind is that CRBP buildings, and their residents, are already predisposed to efficient and effective waste management practices. If you’re moving to a CRBP-approved building, please do your part to be a “reduce, reuse, recycle” participant and make your apartment community greener.

Learn more by visiting and

— Ted Whitehead is Director of Certification, Certified Rental-housing Program, Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario.

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