As the founder of the German Green Party, Petra Kelly once said “If we don’t do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.” It is time we answered Kelly’s call to action and set into motion the necessary steps to revitalize the earth, such as, integrating recycling programs within local communities. The simple practice of generating new uses for discarded materials conserves natural resources, reduces air pollution, saves energy and downsizes landfills. For example, if everyone in the country recycled a newspaper a week thirty-six million trees a year would be saved.

There are six steps involved with setting up a recycling program in a residential property:

  1. Consult a waste collection service
  2. Determine what is needed
  3. Gather equipment
  4. Organize
  5. Roll out the program
  6. Maintain program

This guide will outline each of these steps in detail and how to use them to implement a successful a recycling program.

Step 1: Consult a Waste Collection Service

Before introducing a program determine what type of recycling is possible for the area. This can be accomplished by contacting local residential properties to establish who collects waste and recyclables in the area. When contacting the properties evaluate their customer satisfaction and collection costs

Each community has a different procedure for collecting recyclables. Find out from the hauler what the collection requirements are in the area including:

  • What types of materials are collected
  • How materials are separated
  • What color schemes are used
  • What types of containers are accepted
  • When are materials collected
  • How much does it cost
  • What type of areas work with the collection trucks
  • What happens when the program requirements change

Step 2: Determine What Is Needed

Determine how much and what type of waste is generated in the building. Apply it to the specifications provided by the hauler and the level of traffic anticipated for the area. Together this information will provide what is needed for the recycling program to run. For example, an apartment complex may require small containers for individual dwellings or large capacity centralized collection containers. The type of recycling bin which will work best will depend on how often it will be emptied, the number of tenants contributing to it, possible janitorial services and the size of the area.

A great way to determine what is needed for a recycling program is by seeking the input and approval of those in the space. Applying the advice of tenants and maintenance staff can encourage future program use. It can also ensure that an appropriate recycling program is selected by those who will be using it.

Step 3: Gather Recycling Equipment

Now that the specific needs of the program have been determined the equipment can be purchased. Consult a recycling bin manufacturer for program ideas and container solutions. Ensure that the bins selected are easy to use, efficient and environmentally sound.

Easy to use recycling containers should be versatile and custom designed to work with any environment. There are different bin features available which make participation in a recycling program easier such as:

  • Mountable bins for increased surface space
  • Desk side bins for increased leg room
  • Stackable containers for easy storage
  • Large wheeled or lidded containers for easy transportation

Select the container which makes the most sense for the area it will be placed in.

Containers should feature the correct combination of visual indicators and sorting mechanisms to maximize the ease in use. Use clearly marked labels, shaped deposit slots and different color options.  These tools will allow tenants and staff to quickly identify what the bin is designed to collect.

Implementing plastic containers which are environmentally sound can assist a recycling program. Select containers which are 100% recyclable, made with a minimum of 35% recycled content and complimented by matching waste baskets. Containers meeting these requirements will maximize the results of a residential property recycling program as they have green solutions built right in.

North American made containers have a reduced impact on the environment. Local products will reduce air pollution resulting from overseas shipping and toxins from foreign containers. Also, if the recycling bins are within arm’s reach they will be easier to replace or distribute in the future should new containers be needed.

Product Recommendations

Busch Systems offers an extensive line of recycling and waste container solutions. The type of bin to select for a residential property will depend on how it will be used. There are three categories of use to consider when selecting recycling bins: individual, shared and outdoor. Listed below are product recommendations for each category:

  1. Individual recycling containers are for areas occupied by one person, such as, workstations or apartments. The product best suited for this category is the ‘Multi-Recycler’ which is custom designed to simplify the separation and collection of recyclable materials. The container is equipped with a space efficient stacking mechanism, user friendly slanted insertion slots and effective collection of over six gallons of sorted recyclables and waste.
  2. Recycling containers designed for shared use target common areas, such as, laundry rooms or lobbies. The ‘Smart Sort’ collection is ideal for this environment as it is available in large sizes and uses simplified sorting mechanisms.
  3. Outdoor recycling containers are for exterior facility use, such as, building entrances and courtyards. The ‘Four in One HD’ recycling bin is best suited for this category as it has various collection slot options and fitted liners. This container consists of four compartments which are all able to collect twenty three gallons of waste or recyclables.

These are only a few of the recycling container solutions offered at Busch. To view the complete line of equally attractive alternatives please visit:

Step 4: Organize the Recycling Program

After a container is selected it must be incorporated into a well organized recycling program. The first step is assigning a program coordinator. This should be someone in the facility who is interested in taking charge of the program. Once the coordinator is made aware of their responsibilities they can ensure that the recycling program is always running smoothly.

The new candidate can begin their duties by selecting where the containers should go. When deciding where bins should be placed bear in mind other containers which may be in the environment, traffic, capacity and collection. The scheduling of container collection may be the deciding factor in determining where the bins should go. Placement options may be limited depending on the size of the collection vehicle and the accessibility of the area.

Suggested Green initiatives

Once the collection of recyclable material has been arranged other green initiatives can be considered. Listed below are a few suggestions for green practices which residential properties can perform:

  • Turning down thermostats
  • Using compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Unplugging unused appliances
  • Taking shorter showers
  • Walking, biking or ride sharing wherever possible

Step 5: Roll Out Program

Following the development of a recycling program is the execution. In order for the program to run smoothly the end user must be educated on how it operates and understand what the goals are. Rolling out the initiative will get those sharing the space excited about the program and motivated to use it.

Organize a special event for all tenants of the residential property and roll out the recycling program. Offering incentives (such as a pizza night), to get tenants to attend and excited about the program. This will motivate them to use it in the future. At the event educate tenants on how the program operates and its goals. Also, provide contact information for the program coordinator and a description of responsibilities.

Step 6: Maintain Program

Maintaining a recycling program is a critical component to ensuring its longevity and success. A large part of the upkeep process will be the responsibility of the program coordinator. They will need to constantly monitor the effectiveness of the program and find ways to improve it. The coordinator will also be responsible for keeping those in the property enthused and new staff or tenants educated on the program procedures.

There are several ways in which a program coordinator can keep up enthusiasm at a residential property. For example, a record of the amount of recyclables leaving the property can be stored and statistics can be generated on the materials recovered. These statistics can be posted prominently on building entrances along with an acknowledgement of a job well done. This will keep tenants enthused and generate positive results for the property at large as an increased sense of community develops.


In conclusion, the combined usage of the above six steps will enable residential properties to incorporate an effective recycling program. The program should work toward conserving our natural resources and safeguarding our environment. Ideally, a new recycling program will allow future generations to flourish in what we have instead of flounder in what we have left behind.