TEA summer students and volunteers from CASSA have been talking about the challenges that face condos and apartments in reducing waste - the average diversion rate is 29% for apartments, compared to 66% for houses. However, one condo in Scarborough has turned that around.
Located in Scarborough, 430 Mayfair on the Green has over 1000 residents, but it only generates one dumpster of garbage per month! This building is reducing, reusing, recycling and composting over 80% of their waste.
How did they do it?
We decided we had to visit the building ourselves to see what they were doing, and what the secret to their success is.
What we found most surprising was how simple it really was for the condo to go green.
The dedicated staff in the building have been key to their success by constantly engaging with the residents and coming up with innovative solutions for new problems.
The condo has also been able to save thousands of dollars a year by reducing the amount of garbage they put out - all based on simple changes. No complex machines or expensive solutions were necessary - just education and persistence helped them reach an 80% waste diversion rate.
Here are simple steps the the condo took to increase their waste diversion:
Ongoing Education & Constant Communication
The building staff spent time going door-to-door to talk to residents to introduce the programs and talk about the importance of properly disposing of their waste. Telling residents the building would be saving money on maintenance costs to use on other things was a big incentive for getting them on-board with the changes.
The building staff have put up clear signs everywhere, and use handouts in a number of languages to reach all residents. New residents receive a welcome package outlining what goes where.
The staff are persistent and give feedback! Staff continue to take the time to speak with residents, to answer questions and address improper sorting. Sharing the success of how much they have reduced waste (and the attention from environmental groups and the media!), is helping the residents see how important the small steps are.
Simple and Convenient
Getting everyone to use the Green Bin is an essential part of the plan. To make it easy, the building switched over to using their garbage chute for organics only. The chute connects to a large green bin dumpster in the basement that is picked up twice a week. Garbage is dropped off in the recycling room.
The superintendent drops off transparent recycling bags to each unit every Friday. Residents drop off their filled bags in the recycling room. If they are contaminated, the staff sorts out other waste from recycling.
Household Hazardous waste such as old paint and cleaners, as well as Electronic waste such as computers and cell phones are dropped off in the Recycling room. Staff call the City's Toxic Taxi for pick up when collection boxes are full.
The recycling room, located on the ground floor, is used for various types of waste drop off. It is accessible 24 hours a day, and is clean and well-lit, and under camera surveillance. This means residents feel safe and comfortable visiting the space at any time.
Residents can drop off useful household goods - dishes, clothing, etc - on a shared shelf in the recycling room. Other residents can take what they want. They've scheduled a regular pick up with the Diabetes Association every month to pick up clothing and the household goods that remain. The books now line the shelves of the community room and library.
Residents can also drop off used cooking oil for proper disposal. This oil is sold to an eco-fuels company that is converting into biodiesel. More importantly, the building saves thousands of dollars each year that they used to spend to fix clogged pipes when oil and fat was poured down the drain.
Overall, this building proves that determination and creativity can have big results!