Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recycling at multi-family buildings

Recycling at multi-family buildings (apartments, townhomes, condos) is traditionally a tough nut to crack. You have a population that's transient, sometimes low-income, and often there are language barriers. Louisiana Court Apartments, owned by PPL, in St. Louis Park had tried twice to offer recycling to its residents, but both times the program failed. My co-worker Carolyn was contacted a few months back by an AmeriCorps member working with Louisiana Court because a small group of residents really wanted to re-start recycling at the complex (11 buildings). So the pieces needed for success started coming together: a staff person on the ground who could oversee the program plus a group of enthusiastic residents -- a very important piece. The City of St. Louis Park recycling coordinator was also involved, as were Carolyn and I from the county. Louisiana Court's hauler is Aspen, and at the initial meeting with all of us there, their representative said the program would never work at Louisiana Court. We set out to prove him wrong.

After more meetings, e-mails, and some great-looking new educational materials -- cart stickers, door hangers and posters -- developed by Carolyn and our Environmental Education & Outreach unit, LCA held its kick-off recycling event in the courtyard.

There were free tacos and drinks, recycling demonstrations, recycling pledges, information on energy efficiency and music -- a nice festive atmosphere to get people excited about the new recycling program.

Master Recycler/Composter Lisa went through a recycling sorting activity with a resident.

The complex even has garden plots and rain barrels!

New educational stickers

The following week, the AmeriCorps member and a Master Recycler/Composter went door-to-door answering questions and letting people know about the new program. With so many key pieces in place, I think there's a good chance of success.

Carolyn and I did a spot check, and the contents of the recycling carts looked great -- very little trash. In fact most of the carts were 2/3 to 3/4 full, so Aspen needs to deliver more carts before the recycling start overflowing.

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