Implementing effective food waste recycling initiatives in multi-occupancy buildings and communal housings can be difficult for various reasons, including sometimes transient residents and a lack of resident waste accountability or access to facilities.
With a tendency to achieve poorer recycling rates than their counterparts, multi-occupancy buildings and communal housing - flats, apartments, industrial units, student accommodation, et cetera - are defined as any property that splits into two or more premises or abodes.*
But, with access to better facilities and increased funding to implement separate food waste collections schemes, food waste recycling initiatives in multi-occupancy buildings and communal housings are looking promising.
So, how do we improve food waste recycling rates in these buildings?
Step One – Communicate the Food Waste Recycling Programme
Communicating the details of the food waste recycling programme to residents is an important step in the path to improving food recycling rates.
Whether verbally or via signage and posters, communication should highlight the processes and benefits of the food recycling programme to ensure all residents understand the expectations and requirements of the initiative. Establishing multiple and varied communication mediums enables the programme details to have a wider reach and minimises the issues presented by hard-to-reach residents.
To extend communication further and engage residents, councils and housing associations could upload waste initiative guidelines and information onto resident apps. This method would provide 24/7 access to information, increasing the likelihood of compliance, and would also present the opportunity for users to provide feedback.
Communicating the scheme to tenants also creates the opportunity for residents to provide feedback and suggestions to improve the programme further while creating a community feel and shared environmental goal.
Step Two – Install Recycling Bins and Recycling Points
Installing easily accessible and identifiable food waste recycling containers is crucial to the success of a food waste recycling programme. But what are the considerations to make?
With containers available from 30 litres to 1280 litre capacities, choosing a correctly sized food waste recycling bin is important to improve food waste recycling rates. But how do you know which capacity to choose?
Consideration should be given to the intended volume of residents using the recycling container and its placement within or around the building.
If the food waste bin is for a large multi-occupancy building with a high footfall, a Modus™ 1280 Food Waste Recycling Housing may be an ideal fit. Housing a four-wheeled waste container or two 360-litre wheelie bins, the Modus Housing is suitable for placement outside apartment blocks, outdoor eating areas and other large spaces with high traffic. Due to its size, Glasdon recommends undertaking a risk assessment to identify an appropriate and safe location.
For a smaller multi-occupancy building, such as student housing, a smaller bin may be a better option. Suitable for places with less space but relatively high traffic, the Nexus® City 140 Food Waste Recycling Bin is robust and attractive and features a soft-close aperture flap and a 140-litre capacity. Also available with a capacity of 240-litres, the Nexus® City 240 Food Waste Recycling Bin houses 240-litre wheelie bins and allows for easy content disposal and waste collection.
Opting for a food waste recycling bin with the correct capacity for the multi-occupancy building in question has several benefits:
- Recycling efficiency increases as the correctly sized container reduces the possibility of overfilling.
- Costs decrease as the requirement for frequent collections lessens.
Accessibility and Placement –
To encourage the correct disposal of waste, the positioning of food waste recycling bins should be within an adequate distance of the building and alongside other recycling and waste disposal units. The size of the building will determine whether more than one recycling point is needed, but regardless of how many, each recycling point should contain all the necessary equipment to fulfil the recycling programmes the building offers.
Providing easily recognisable signs allows residents to identify recycling points while also encouraging recycling. Adding signage to food waste recycling bins and sign kits helps to emphasise the function of the recycling bin, encourage the correct disposal of food waste, and minimise the possibility of cross-contamination.
Step Three – Minimise the Possibility of Cross-Contamination
There are several ways a recycling programme can be adapted to minimise the possibility of cross-contamination.
Apertures encourage residents to dispose of waste correctly by providing openings suitable for individual waste streams. Available in multiple colours, apertures can also allow for the differentiation between recycling containers and highlight the function of the recycling bin.
For a food waste container, a soft-close aperture flap keeps food waste odours inside and vermin outside.
Clearly Labelled Recycling Bins –
Adding clear and identifiable signage onto recycling bins and containers is a handy way to minimise cross-contamination. Creating a clear and recognisable waste stream lowers the possibility of residents throwing away waste into incorrect containers.
Personalisation is available on most recycling bins and can modify a container to feature specific colourways, community messages, recycling advice or guidance. Adding images or graphics to a food waste bin or additional sign kits creates a simplified yet effective recycling system.
Spot Checks –
Spot checks are a handy way to monitor whether residents are correctly disposing of food waste. By performing spot checks, it creates a system that monitors and, through re-explaining the recycling process to anyone found to be incorrectly disposing of food waste, corrects the eventuality of cross-contamination and minimises the chance of repeat offending.
Step Four – Measure and Monitor Success.
Measuring and monitoring the success of a food waste recycling programme will allow an insight into the programmes successes and the areas requiring further improvement. Regularly observing the initiative and performing reviews and spot checks can encourage recycling while ensuring that residents dispose of food waste correctly.