Frequently Asked Questions: The Zero Waste High-Rise Project

This is a list of our most frequently asked questions about the Zero Waste High-Rise Project and our new online program.

What is a "zero waste" high-rise building?

  • Zero waste is an approach to waste that is about continual improvement with a focus on eliminating garbage sent to landfill or incinerator. Zero waste focuses on conserving resources by reducing, reusing, recycling as much as possible. When goods can’t be reused or recycled, they should be redesigned so that they can. 
  • A zero waste building commits to ongoing efforts to reduce waste and helps residents reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. 

What commitment is required to participate in the program?

  • This program has been designed so that building residents and staff can move at their own pace, and at their own choice. 
  • Based on what we’ve seen in successful buildings, we recommend completing all forms, reviewing all tools and participating in online events to make the most of this program. 
  • One of the most valuable aspects of this project is the chance to connect with and learn from other people and communities in the project. Over the next 6 months, TEA will be offering special online events and reporting on successes from other buildings to inspire and encourage you. These events will be posted and shared by email to everyone enrolled in the online program, or anyone who has signed up for email updates for the project.

Who can participate? Is this only for high-rise buildings?

  • Residents and staff at all forms of high-rise and multi-residential building can participate in the project. 
  • “Multi-residential” refers to buildings with 6 or more multiple residential units - 6 or more in Toronto. Buildings come in range of sizes including towers, low rise buildings, townhouse complexes and more. “Multi-residential” also includes a range of property ownership types - rental apartments owned by a landlord, condominiums with individually-owned units, co-operatively owned buildings, social housing owned by governments or non-profits, and others. While these different building types have different challenges, they have many of the same opportunities for improvement. 
  • For research purposes, earlier phases of our project focused on multi-residential buildings with City of Toronto waste service, and condominium or co-operative ownership. In condos and co-ops, residents have a formal role in decision-making about the building operations. 

I am not in Toronto / I’m not in a high-rise residential building - can I join?

  • The resources and tools were created primarily for multi-residential buildings in Toronto, with City of Toronto waste services, and based on our experience working with condominium and co-operatively owned buildings. 
  • However, many of the tools, and the general approach to reducing waste, will be helpful to residents and staff in other building types and cities. The program is self-directed, so that anyone can join and access the tools and resources relevant to them.*
  • We ask that you please share your results and feedback on your experience with our tools and how they worked for you. 

* Note: It’s important to follow the directions of your building’s waste service provider, as they set the rules about what is recyclable, what goes in the organics bin, and how that waste is collected. Multi-residential buildings may have municipal or private companies that provide waste service, and these can have different sorting rules even if they are in the same city. Additionally, each province has slightly different rules about how recycling, organics and special waste are handled.

When is this project happening?

  • The Zero Waste High-Rise Project pathway launched in September 2020 and will continue to early spring 2021. 
  • Throughout the fall and early 2021, TEA will send regular email reminders about new resources, success stories and next steps in the pathway. TEA will also host online information sessions, peer learning events and virtual tours for teams at participant buildings, and resident education events. 
  • TEA will review progress reports and achievements of buildings made by March 14th and celebrate these buildings in April 2021.
  • Throughout 2021, the resources and forms will continue to be available as well as recordings of the project information sessions. 

What is the Micro-Grant? Is my building eligible?

  • A limited number of micro-grants of up to $500 will be available to help Toronto buildings implement their action plans. 
  • Application forms will be available in early January.
  • Funds will be available for ‘hard’ costs to improve waste diversion in the building - for example bins, shelving, tools and custom signs. Consumable supplies (e.g. bags, gloves), staffing or event costs are not eligible. 
  • Contact us to get feedback on your Action Plan and find out if your plan is eligible.
  • Buildings must complete all forms from stages 1, 2 and 3 in the online pathway and submit an Action Plan by February 15th (New Deadline). Applicants must have commitment from building staff and commit to submit progress and final reports by March 14th to share results for TEA’s research purposes.

How is this project funded? 

  • In order to make the tools and resources available to as many buildings as possible, the Zero Waste High-Rise Project has no costs for participants
  • This project is funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. 
  • This project is also supported in-kind by researchers at the University of Toronto and has research funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.