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Make space for apartment recycling: Metro Van

Apartment-dwellers trash nearly twice as much of their recyclable waste compared to those who live in houses, according to Metro Vancouver.

It's a big hurdle the regional district must overcome to reach its goal of diverting 70 per cent of waste from landfills by 2015.

Yesterday the regional district launched pilot projects at two of its apartment complexes in Surrey and Port Coquitlam, an attempt to find out the barriers to recycling, and what can be done to overcome them.

Ruben Anderson of FutureProof, the consulting firm hired to launch the projects, said he and a colleague are collecting data right now.

The next step will be a social marketing approach to try and change behaviour; it will includes things like providing smaller, more convenient containers for apartments, stickers and brochures reminding people what they can and can’t recycle, or appointing volunteer recycling officers in each building, explained Anderson.

At the press conference in Port Coquitlam, one resident told The Tyee she does go to the trouble of bringing her recyclables down to the bins in the complex parking lot.

"Most of the time, they are overflowing," said Barb Israel.

Apartment building owners and managers are responsible for finding enough space for large recycling bins, and it usually means sacrificing parking, said Mairi Welman of the Recycling Council of B.C.

She said regulations to require recycling infrastructure in new buildings is a good idea.

"It's one of those tools that cities and municipalities have to work with when it comes to dealing with developers," said Welman.

"Usually, the government's way of operating is to give people a chance to do the right thing first."

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