Managing Waste Programs – Sustainability Best Practices

We have always believed that many sustainable features included in new builds, renovations or retrofits work best when supported by building operators and occupants. One of the more visible and measurable efforts building management and tenants can participate in is waste management – working to divert more waste from landfill.

Provide the Means

The first step is to ensure that bins are provided, and are clearly marked as to their purpose. Buildings sometimes neglect to work this simple step into the design process. It is possible to provide sleek looking waste bins that accommodate recycling and organic waste receptacles to align with the waste management program.

Get Tenants Engaged

Through our tenant engagement programs, particularly due to a long engagement at 720Access, we have learned that understanding the building demographic’s attitude towards waste is the first step in determining how to engage them. For example, in a downtown Toronto client, we found the tenants do care about waste diversion and are willing to make an effort, but are often confused about the building’s system. Therefore, engagement efforts didn’t need to convince them to try or care, just teach them how to execute.

Waste Program EducationEducation is Key

It can be hard to know and remember what goes where because private pick-up companies and municipal rules vary. Also, many individuals aren’t aware of just how much tonnage of waste can be diverted from landfill if a whole building full of people make efforts. Through campaigns within the complex’s public areas and inclusion of tenant spaces, building operators can increase awareness of the issue/possibilities, and provide education on what goes where at the same time. We’ve had great success with 2-3 month campaigns that include a measured challenge. However, ongoing support is also important. This should include ensuring public spaces always have the right bins available, clearly labelled. Plus, since both building tenants and businesses have natural turnover, and the waste program can change, rerunning the campaign regularly with any updates is also helpful.

Make it Easy for Tenants

To help everyone know what to put where companies like Wasteco have supplied posters that detail what goes into each bin. This information can also be designed using the building or the property management’s brand. They work best if posted in every waste collection area, including inside tenant spaces. The key is to make them easily available to tenants, or even provide them in printed form so they simply have to post them. We have gone as far as sending a team into tenant spaces to put up posters for them.

Lead by Example – The Effort is Well Worth It

Tenants will care more if the building leads the way by ensuring the means and education are available. If tenants are encouraged to take the time to both learn what goes where and then to build a habit of separating and cleaning waste (where needed), it can make a huge difference to waste diversion rates.

Building operators can lead by example, by making the right bins available and putting these posters up around or on the waste bins. Make it easier for building management and tenants to make the effort.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about managing waste programs or sustainability best practices. Watch for additional articles in our Sustainability Best Practices series.

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