2017 Summary


MULTIFAMILY

Multifamily Outreach

Since 2012, Waste Management has been working together with King and Snohomish Counties to identify and test best practices for increasing and sustaining multifamily recycling. Through this work, it has been determined that effectively increasing multifamily recycling requires implementing the Recycling Best Practices-a combination of property management engagement, infrastructure improvements, and tenant education.

In 2016, Waste Management launched a new effort to implement these best practices on a larger scale for multifamily customer properties throughout unincorporated areas of King and Snohomish Counties.

Multifamily Outreach
The Four C's of Multifamily Recycling

Successful multifamily recycling programs rely on a supportive recycling infrastructure that makes it easy for residents to participate. Research and pilot programs supported by Waste Management have identified the Four C's of Multifamily Recycling as key features of a strong multifamily recycling program:

  • Convenience - Recycling and garbage containers should be equally convenient for tenants to access. This generally requires co-location of containers wherever possible.

  • Clarity - It must be clear to tenants which container is for garbage and which container is for recycling. Containers should have large, identifying labels and image-based signs posted at every point of collection.

  • Capacity - There must be sufficient room in the recycling container for tenants to place their recyclables. For most properties, recycling service should be approximately 50 percent of its total service volume, with per unit capacity in the range of 20 to 30 gallons (0.10 to 0.15 cubic yards).

  • Color - Color coding of containers increases the clarity of which container is intended for recyclables. Blue is generally associated with recycling


In 2017, program staff helped 82 properties in both counties make recycling infrastructure improvements and add a total of 345 yards of recycling per week! In total, more than 200 properties received some form of recycling assistance and door-to-door recycling education reached over 5,100 residential units.


Through the efforts completed since 2012, more than one quarter of WM customer properties in the King County RSA area and 84 customer properties in the Snohomish County RSA have implemented all recycling best practices.


As part of this project the Waste Management multifamily website was improved and resources are available for order or download here: wmnorthwest.com/recyclingallstars/


Since 2012, Waste Management has been working together with King County and Snohomish County to identify and test best practices for increasing and sustaining multifamily recycling. Through this work, it has been determined that effectively increasing multifamily recycling requires a combination of property management engagement, infrastructure improvements, and tenant education.

In 2016, Waste Management launched a new effort to implement these best practices on a larger scale for multifamily customer properties throughout unincorporated areas of King and Snohomish Counties.

Building on the "Waste Management Recycling All Stars" program and resources developed for the multifamily sector by Waste Management in previous years, the 2016-2017 initiative will involve development of a revamped web portal with resources and information for property managers as well as outreach and technical assistance to improve recycling infrastructure and enhance tenant education at over a hundred properties, reaching thousands of residential units.


Waste Management launched a campaign to implement property management engagement, infrastructure improvements, and tenant education on a larger scale

The Four C's of Multifamily Recycling

Successful multifamily recycling programs rely on a supportive recycling infrastructure that makes it easy for residents to participate. Research and pilot programs supported by Waste Management have identified the Four C's of Multifamily Recycling as key features of a strong multifamily recycling program:
  • Convenience - Recycling and garbage containers should be equally convenient for tenants to access. This generally requires co-location of containers wherever possible.

  • Clarity - It must be clear to tenants which container is for garbage and which container is for recycling. Containers should have large, identifying labels and image-based signs posted at every point of collection.

  • Capacity - There must be sufficient room in the recycling container for tenants to place their recyclables. For most properties, recycling service should be approximately 50 percent of its total service volume, with per unit capacity in the range of 20 to 30 gallons (0.10 to 0.15 cubic yards).

  • Color - Color coding of containers increases the clarity of which container is intended for recyclables. Blue is generally associated with recycling.




Multifamily Outreach
Beginning in 2012, Waste Management and Snohomish County Solid Waste started working together to create a multifamily program that empowered property managers (PM) to improve recycling infrastructure and programs on their properties to increase overall recycling diversion rates, while also minimizing recycling contamination levels.

In phases one and two, executed in 2013 and 2014, Waste Management and Snohomish County researched and developed the "Waste Management Recycling All Stars" program. This new multifamily program includes both a PM recycling toolkit and an annual recognition program, which combines PM recycling outreach and education actions with rewards and community recognition. Phase three, launching the program pilot, ultimately sought to assess whether equipping property managers with the information and resources provided in the toolkit, combined with financial and recognition-based incentives, would in fact enable and motivate them to address and improve their onsite recycling programs.

Toolkits were delivered to all property managers across Snohomish County. The toolkits were provided both as a printed guide and an interactive website PMs could access to easily participate and utilize program resources. Toolkits provided information on participating in the All Stars program and detailed program rewards and recognition. It also provided in depth information on how to evaluate their recycling infrastructure, educate and motivate residents while tracking and sustaining their recycling program. Just over 500 toolkits were delivered and program participation and completion was tracked throughout the year. Final program evaluation, which included participant and non-participant surveys, yielded interesting results. The toolkits and resources were very popular among program participants, PMs found that access to education materials and resources provided in the toolkit very helpful. Yet, of the 535 toolkits distributed only 35 resulted in participation from 37 properties, post program analysis uncovered that financial and recognition-based incentives were only minimally compelling, though PMs liked having financial incentives to share with residents.

Waste Management and Snohomish County added a technical assistance component to this program to help property managers improve recycling at their properties because inadequate service levels were identified as one of the biggest barriers to effective multifamily recycling. Waste Management staff identified and then worked with properties to "right size" them.




Multifamily Outreach - Snohomish County



Multilingual labels used to differentiate recycling and garbage.


Link - Move In Guidelines - Acrobat Format

Read Move In Resources, a tip sheet highlighting ways to minimize waste during a move.


Link - Sample Property Assessment - Acrobat Format

Read sample Property Assessment & Recommendations provided to a property manager.



Link - Multifamily Quiz - Acrobat Format

View an example of a bilingual recycling quiz


Link - This Community Recycles - Acrobat Format

Multilingual tote bag used to help encourage recycling.

In Snohomish County, the focus of the multifamily outreach was on conducting door-to-door resident education for 20 percent of the multifamily population, and developing, piloting and evaluating technical assistance strategies for property managers at up to 10 properties.


In Snohomish County, WM implemented pilot projects to test the effectiveness of two outreach tactics door-to-door resident education and distribution of recycling tools and resources, and hands-on, onsite technical assistance for property managers.

The Property Manager Technical Assistance pilot was designed to provide direct, hands-on support to property managers to help them address barriers to recycling at their properties, including changes to on-site recycling infrastructure and service, as well as resident education, motivation, and participation.

WM measured, through surveys and pre- and post-outreach waste audits, the impact that each outreach strategy had on increasing the capture of recyclables and decreasing contamination.


A total of nine properties received assistance through the Technical Assistance pilot. These nine properties were selected from the list of properties who had received door-to-door outreach in 2012, and had indicated in property manager surveys that they would be interested in additional assistance.

Technical Assistance staff used site assessment tools developed for this project to make recommendations for improving recycling infrastructure and collection service at centralized collection points at the property.

Examples of recommendations include:

  • Adding recycling containers or pick-up days to increase recycling collection capacity

  • Re-arranging or adding containers to ensure pairing of recycling and garbage containers

  • Painting recycling containers blue and adding labels to differentiate recycling and garbage

  • Reducing the size or number of garbage containers to eliminate excess garbage capacity and make space for recycling containers
Technical Assistance staff worked with property managers and WM staff to coordinate implementation of service level adjustments and other infrastructure changes, ensuring that all changes addressed the unique needs of each property, were operationally feasible and appropriate, and were designed to minimize additional costs for the property managers, ideally resulting in cost savings over time.

Property managers were also provided with tools for educating and encouraging residents to recycle, such as offering:

  • Reusable recycling tote bags, along with educational materials, guidance on how to distribute bags, and recommended language for communicating instructions for bag use to tenants

  • Guidance and recommended language for communicating about recycling infrastructure improvements to residents through property newsletters or other communication channels


While the effects of the Snohomish County multifamily pilot project on recycling outcomes are still being evaluated, the project team has identified a number of lessons learned related to project design and implementation, presented below for each of the two pilots conducted as part of this project.

Property Manager Technical Assistance Pilot

Technical assistance delivery relied on ongoing proactive communication with property managers, often through in-person site visits. Property managers who agreed to participate in the technical assistance pilot expressed enthusiasm and interest in improving the conditions for recycling at their properties from the start, but maintaining their engagement and cooperation over the course of the implementation timeline required a substantial investment of staff time.

Property managers were often unresponsive to email and phone communication, requiring technical assistance staff to make in-person visits at critical points in the process, to confirm that infrastructure and service changes were implemented properly and that tote bags had been distributed to residents. However, because all properties in the technical assistance pilot had on-site property management offices and staff, in-person visits were highly effective at reaching property managers, who were highly responsive and willing to communicate during those visits.

Implementation of infrastructure and service changes is time-consuming and requires close coordination with WM operations staff. The project team had initially anticipated that infrastructure and service changes would occur at technical assistance pilot sites in July and August, but implementation actually took much longer, stretching into mid-December. The process of confirming and coordinating implementation of changes also required substantially more technical assistance staff time than had been planned, partly because coordination of changes occurred on a property-by-property basis rather than in batches, as had been initially planned.

Door-to-Door Outreach and Baseline Data Collection

Confirmation Process for Eligible Outreach Sites

Outreach staff spent significantly more time than anticipated verifying the eligibility of properties. Over the course of the pilot, this included the following activities:

  • GIS mapping to confirm location of property in WM WUTC service area

  • Screening and cross-referencing of service data to confirm recycling service (properties without recycling service were considered ineligible for outreach)

  • Searching for unit counts of all 308 properties flagged as candidate properties in Snohomish County Tax Assessor's database to confirm multifamily status (properties with fewer than five units were considered ineligible for outreach; commercial properties were also disqualified)

  • Making up to three phone calls to contacts to verify unit count eligibility at properties where units were unknown

  • Making in-person visits to properties whose eligibility could not be verified in advance. Approximately half of these ended up not being eligible
This time spent resulted in outreach staff being able to reach fewer properties than initially forecasted. However, the process also revealed a lower overall pool of eligible properties than was assumed at the start of the project.

Although time consuming, the investment in baseline data collection, including verification of property eligibility, is expected to provide valuable information for WM to enhance customer data and to inform future outreach efforts.

Impact of Property Size and Location

The evaluation design chosen did not ultimately reflect the distribution of property sizes served through the pilot, making evaluation of pilot effects difficult. The evaluation element of the pilot was designed to provide a comparison to the technical assistance pilot, and thus properties that matched the sizes and configurations of technical assistance pilot sites were chosen to serve as evaluation sites for this pilot. However, the properties reached through the door-to-door pilot ended up diverging substantially from the properties served through the technical assistance pilot, in terms of size, configuration, and service arrangements.

Because the evaluation sites selected for the outreach pilot do not fully reflect the range of properties served through the pilot, it is not possible to use the waste audit data collected at these sites to accurately assess the effects of outreach on the properties reached nor is it possible to assess potential differences in the effects of door-to-door outreach on different types of properties (e.g., differences between small, medium, and large properties).

Recycling Tote Bags and Educational Materials

The tote bag design chosen for the pilot received positive feedback from many residents. Many residents expressed exceptional enthusiasm about the handle on the bottom of the tote bag, noting that such a feature made the bag much more useful to them than an ordinary tote bag.

Printing and shipping of tote bags required substantial lead time. The project team was unprepared for the time required for printing and shipping of tote bags, which led to a delay in the start of the door-to-door outreach pilot. Future multifamily recycling promotion activities that involve the distribution of tote bags should be prepared to build in 12 weeks between when the tote bag order is placed and when bags are available for use.

Field Data Tracking

The use of iPads and web-based data tracking delivered time savings for outreach staff, despite occasional web service issues. Outreach staff found the experience of using iPads in the field to be very positive, and noted that the use of web-based data tracking tools eliminated a substantial amount of time that would otherwise have been devoted to office-based data entry. However, the staff did encounter challenges with connectivity in some areas, which slowed outreach at those properties. Overall, however, staff felt the iPads and web-based tools delivered time savings overall.

Property Manager Outreach and Communication

Attempts at making advanced contact with property managers were more successful-and more valuable-at large properties. The project team found it easier to make phone contact in advance of outreach with property managers at larger properties, many of which have on-site offices. Outreach staff also felt it was valuable to acquire authorization for outreach at these larger properties, which were more likely to have highly visible "No Trespassing" or "No Soliciting" signs. Outreach staff reported encountering occasional questions from residents about the legitimacy of their presence at these properties, and having explicit authorization from the property manager helped outreach staff approach these situations more confidently.

Smaller properties proved more difficult to reach in advance - phone calls tended to be less fruitful, both because many numbers were disconnected or wrong numbers, but also because of a lower answer rate among listed contacts.

Sending letters in advance also did appear to help inform property managers of outreach. Many property managers found on-site did recall receiving the letter and were aware that outreach would be happening.

Door-to-Door Outreach

Use of web-based mapping software helped maximize the efficiency of field time. Outreach staff found that the use of web-based mapping software helped them optimize routing of assigned properties, reducing time spent in the field between properties. This was especially useful during weeks when outreach staff concentrated on small and medium sized properties, when teams were likely to visit multiple properties in each outreach session.

Time of outreach had little effect on resident interaction rates, but type and size of property and weather did have noticeable effects. Outreach teams attempted outreach at a variety of times, including evenings, mornings, and weekends, and discovered that ideal times for finding people at home varied significantly across properties, with some properties having many residents at home during the day, while others had more residents at home in the late afternoon. Overall, the time of outreach did not measurably change resident interaction rates. However, outreach staff found that resident interaction rates fell as the weather turned colder. The final three weeks of outreach were conducted during an exceptionally cold spell, and outreach staff noticed more residents home but unwilling to come to the door during these weeks.

Outreach efforts benefited from multilingual staff. Overall, outreach staff reported relatively few interactions with residents who had limited or no English proficiency, but staff was able to provide alternate language interactions in a number of cases in which it was determined to be necessary. The project team had determined in advance that the most prominent language spoken in the area besides English was Spanish, and all outreach teams included native Spanish speakers. When outreach staff encountered Spanish-speaking residents with limited English proficiency, the Spanish-speaking team member was called over. Outreach team members also utilized Korean, Thai, and Arabic language skills during a small number of resident interactions. In a few cases, outreach staff reported being unable to communicate with residents due to language barriers.



Multifamily Outreach - King County

Link - Container Labels - Acrobat Format



Multilingual labels used to differentiate recycling and garbage. A free tote (bottom photo) makes it convenient for all residents to recycle.


Read a memo from Cascadia Consulting which provides a brief summary of the Multifamily BBQ and Recycling Fair at the Avenues Apartments located in Waste Management's Unincorporated King County WUTC service territory.


Link - Recycling Reminders - Acrobat Format

Sample Recycling Reminders would be customized for residents of a specific multifamily site.


Link - Invitation - Acrobat Format

An example of an invitation to a free community barbecue and recycling fair, made available in English and Spanish.


Link - Move In Resources - Acrobat Format

Read Move In Resources, a tip sheet highlighting ways to minimize waste during a move.

In King County, the focus of the multifamily outreach was on developing, piloting and evaluating three sets of culturally competent outreach tactics, materials and tools for conducting outreach with Hispanic/Latino residents.


In partnership with a multicultural steering committee and King County, WM developed and piloted a culturally competent, Spanish-language door-to-door outreach pilot for Latino multifamily residents in King County.


Over the course of 2013 WM, King County, Cascadia Consulting and multicultural outreach specialists, ECOSS, Eco-Lógica, and T.D. Wang, worked together to design, implement, and evaluate a culturally competent multifamily pilot project focusing on the Hispanic Latino population of King County. The pilot methodology was developed in a deliberate planning process to decide which culturally competent outreach and engagement strategies would be used as part of this pilot program.

The chosen strategies were divided into a set of five "best practice basics," including four related to recycling infrastructure and one related to resident engagement. These strategies were implemented at all test properties, and two additional resident engagement strategies were implemented at a subset of test properties.

Pilot sites were selected based on initial waste audits conducted at 26 multifamily properties in King County. Properties were selected based on county priorities, such as those with large numbers of Hispanic residents, low recycling rates, and/or high levels of garbage contamination in the recycling stream. The full project team selected eight test sites and three control sites that met project criteria, including large numbers of Hispanic Latino residents, alignment of the property with key project goals and objectives, and responsive property managers.

The project team designed a variety of materials and tools for resident engagement and pilot evaluation, including reusable tote bags with key messages in English and Spanish, oversized multilingual identification stickers for garbage and recycling containers, transcreated recycling guidelines, an English/Spanish "Move In/ Move Out Recycling Resources" flyer, bilingual recycling quizzes and surveys, and English/Spanish recycling reminder cards. The project team discussed engaging and culturally appropriate language to be included in these materials, and decided on slogans and images that would resonate with the Hispanic Latino community.

The project team conducted a variety of evaluation activities during the course of this pilot project, and a number of evaluation activities are underway in early 2014. The final results of the pilot project will not be available until February 2014.

Onsite Waste Audits

A major project evaluation component involved waste audits at test and control properties throughout the duration of the pilot program, starting with baseline data collection waste audits. Field staff conducted three rounds of audits to measure the waste and recycling quantities and composition before, during, and after implementing strategies. Based on the container dimensions and in-field measurements of fullness, field staff calculated the total volumes of garbage and recyclables. Field staff also conducted observations of illegal dumping and bulky item disposal in and around containers.

The project team also used data from the waste audits to develop estimates of average waste generation and waste composition for multifamily properties on a per-unit per-week basis. This enabled the study team to assess whether the best practice benchmarks used in the site assessments as part of this pilot-such as the assumed average waste generation of 0.40 cubic yards per unit per week-were accurate.

A final round of waste audits were conducted at pilot properties during the first quarter of 2014. Once data from these audits are collected, the project team will be able to fully assess the effects of pilot strategies on recycling quantities and contamination at test properties.

Pre- and Post-Outreach Resident Surveys and Quizzes

Outreach staff collected evaluation data from residents at the beginning of door-to-door outreach interactions, and is collecting evaluation data from residents again in a final round of door-to-door visits that occurred in January and February 2014. Once collected, compiled, and analyzed, data obtained from these qualitative evaluation tools will help provide insight into the pilot's impact on resident recycling awareness and habits.

Time and Cost Analysis

Throughout the pilot project, the project team closely tracked labor time, expenses and other costs related to designing, implementing, and evaluating the pilot. Once pilot activities are fully completed, the project team will estimate the cost and time per property and per occupied unit spent for pilot activities, and will compare the costs of pilot strategies to the outcomes achieved.



While the effects of the pilot project on recycling outcomes is still being evaluated, the project team has identified a number of lessons learned and recommendations related to project design and implementation.

Pilot Implementation Process

Establishing trust and maintaining communication with property managers requires ongoing investment, but is critical for success. Sending an official letter from WM to the property managers (PMs) about the project helped to gain their trust and engagement at the start of the project. It was also important to maintain ongoing communication to ensure property managers were clear about what infrastructure changes were recommended and what the impacts would be on the property's service levels and costs.

Even after service and infrastructure changes were made, it was necessary to continue to check on properties' capacity and property managers' needs over time. Determining the best ways to communicate with each individual property manager up front helped to ensure efficient communication throughout the duration of the project, but staff still invested a lot of time making contact with property managers throughout the project through phone calls and in-person visits. Property manager engagement, though, made it easier for staff to gain property access and to conduct outreach and waste audits efficiently.

Involvement of WM operations staff is crucial to ensure recommended infrastructure and service changes are feasible. The project team quickly learned the importance of determining the feasibility of proposed infrastructure and service changes with WM operations staff when finalizing service level recommendations for pilot properties. Each test property had unique container, service frequency and container location needs, and development of appropriate recommendations depended on input from WM operations staff as well as property managers. Similarly, successful implementation of infrastructure and service changes required close coordination between project staff and the WM operations team.

Additional time is needed for development of materials adhering to cultural competency principles. Materials developed based on cultural competency principles, reviewed by a full project team, and translated or transcreated required more time for material development and review. In order to prepare quality materials in time for door-to-door outreach and other implementation and evaluation activities, sufficient time must be allowed for material development, review, printing, and shipping.

Time of outreach had lower than expected effects on resident interaction rates, but did affect length of interactions. The outreach staff attempted outreach at a variety of times, including evenings, mornings, and weekends, and discovered that ideal times for finding people at home varied significantly across properties, with some properties having many residents at home in the mornings, while others had more residents at home in the late afternoon. Overall, though, the time of outreach did not measurably change resident interaction rates. However, outreach staff found that when visits were conducted between 4-6 pm, residents who were home had less time for interactions than residents reached at other times of day, as most were busy with dinner or children. Thus it is important to consider the target interaction length, as well as the desire to reach people at home, when thinking about the time of the day to visit.

Bilingual outreach staff enhanced resident interactions and pilot design. The project's bilingual outreach staff was able to fully communicate with the target Hispanic Latino community, understand their needs and unique challenges, and explain recycling information in a more culturally relevant manner. Based on feedback from outreach staff, the project team was able to make small adjustments to the pilot approach to better serve the needs and questions of residents.

Informal recycling and disposal arrangements may affect the flow of materials at multifamily properties in this area. Over the course of the pilot, the project team learned that there is a fair amount of informal recycling and bulky item collection at some of the pilot properties. For example, a number of residents reported observing private (non-WM) trucks picking up furniture and other bulky items left next to outdoor containers, as well as going through recycling containers and removing items that may be valuable, such as cardboard and aluminum. It is unclear how much this activity affects the material flow measured as part of this project, but it is a factor that will be considered in the evaluation of pilot effects.

Recommendations for effective door-to-door outreach with Hispanic/Latino residents:

  • Open with a question. Outreach staff found that opening each resident interaction with a question allowed them to gauge the level of knowledge of their audience and thus better tailor their approach.

  • Approach residents with confidence. While it is necessary for outreach staff to read the audience and determine how much time they are willing to give, it is also important to feel confident that outreach is an important service. Door-to-door outreach is a substantial investment, and once the staff is there, it is good to make every effort possible to talk to the residents.

  • When creating translated/transcreated materials, have at least two translators review the material. This is helpful not only for catching errors but also to figure out subtle cultural and language nuances.

  • Incorporate clearly identifiable visible markers for similar materials in different languages. When delivering two different versions of the same material, have a quick and easy visual way to recognize each set.



King County Multifamily Organics Study

In 2017 Waste Management conducted a study to evaluate whether multifamily properties in unincorporated areas of King County are prepared to start an organics program onsite. It helped identify how many are prepared to begin organics collection and illuminated the main barriers for properties not yet ready to start such a program.

First, properties must have successful recycling programs as a starting point to be ready to add organics collection. Organics collection requires correct sorting in addition to high involvement from residents and property managers.


Organics readiness is based on the following criteria:
  • Engaged property manager that is willing to work with Waste Management and residents to ensure program success

  • Clean recycling with minimal contamination

  • High resident participation in recycling

  • Interest from residents in organics collection
Study Approach and Findings

To initiate the study, property managers were contacted by phone to schedule site visits to evaluate these criteria, and all properties not reached over the phone were visited in person.

During visits, questions were asked to determine the property manager's willingness to work on the program and recycling audits were conducted to determine whether the recycling stream was "clean" and the level of participation by tenants. If approved by the property manager, a survey was also given to residents to gauge interest.

Ten of 151 properties are ready to begin an organics program, with 10 additional properties that are potentially ready, depending on property manager involvement.
Study Approach and Findings
Candidates for Multifamily Organics
Candidates for Multifamily Organics
Not Yet
Potential
Ready
Currently composting
Of the 128 properties that are not currently ready to begin an organics program, 39 percent either didn't have enough recycling onsite, or were having difficulties with the recycling they already had. Thirty percent had property managers that weren't interested, and the remaining 31 percent didn't have property manager's onsite, and could not be reached with three call attempts.


Study informs strategic and targeted approach to implementing organics collection programs in King County.


Reasons Properties Aren't Ready for Organics Collection
Reasons Properties Aren't Ready for Organics Collection
Property Management Not On Site, Couldn't Contact
Property Management Not Interested
Contaminated Recycling
Not Enough Recycling
Key Takeaways

Following the study, Waste Management determined that offering organics service to multifamily complexes in unincorporated areas of King County would be beneficial since some properties were interested and could take advantage of it. However, program success would require a secondary check at the site to ensure the property already has solid recycling practices in place. In addition, targeted outreach to the 20 identified properties that are ready to start organics collection would be a much more effective approach than wide scale rollout.




2012 Review of Waste Management Multifamily Programs




Several programs' strategies and toolkits could be adapted to Waste Management multifamily programs in the WUTC service areas. These toolkits include:

Property Manager's Guide to Recycling & Waste Reduction, California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery

Exploring Multifamily Recycling, Eureka Recycling

Waste Reduction and Recycling, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Strategies for Record-Setting Waste Reduction in Multifamily Dwellings, EPA

Multifamily Recycling: A National Study, EPA


We reviewed promotional materials that may be useful in promotion of multifamily programs.



Sample Mulitfamily promotion from Waste Management Canada



Gain a better understanding of multifamily education and outreach tactics used by Waste Management by conducting an internal review of all Waste Management multifamily programs offered throughout the company's North American service area to determine whether innovative strategies and tactics are being used and can be modified for local implementation. Interview staff and review multifamily program strategies, materials and outcomes to identify and document internal best practices.


Waste Management provides collection services across North America. While each region is unique, there are service areas which share common multifamily customer groups. In an effort to identify multifamily outreach strategies offered in other parts of the company, Waste Management, with support from King and Snohomish Counties, conducted an internal company-wide survey of education staff and programs. The Waste Management programs and materials catalogued in this survey will be used in 2013 as resources from which to evaluate and expand current programs offered in King and Snohomish Counties.



A total of 11 interviews were conducted with Waste Management multifamily program staff in California, Nevada, Oregon, and British Columbia, Canada. Program materials and work plans were shared and discussed, and, as a result, several programs' strategies and toolkits were identified as resources that could be adapted to Waste Management multifamily programs in the WUTC service areas.


Across North America, most of Waste Management's service areas operate in an open market environment for commercial and multifamily accounts. In these types of service areas, customer outreach programs are tailored to the needs of the individual property, and account managers serve as both educator and service advisor.

In Waste Management service areas defined by municipal collection contracts, city- or county-wide customer education programs are created and implemented in partnership with the municipality. After reaching across the company in the search for other staff and locations offering multifamily programs, it quickly became clear that regional recycling outreach programs were confined to the west coast, where the majority of multifamily properties are incorporated, as customers, in municipal collection contracts.

The multifamily program materials and outreach tactics shared by Waste Management west coast staff are similar to those used by Waste Management in the Pacific Northwest-bilingual recycling guides, door hangers, brochures, flyers, posters, decals, resident newsletters, onsite assistance; but there were some new tools identified, including a "Property Manger's Guide to Recycling and Waste Reduction" and a split bin program.



International Study of Multifamily Programs and Strategies




The full report: Multifamily Recycling Case Studies on Innovative Practices from Around the World

Gain a better understanding of national and international multifamily education and outreach tactics by conducting a study of multifamily programs and strategies from around the world to identify innovative strategies to determine whether those strategies and tactics are being used and can be modified for local implementation. We have published a report which is available to interested jurisdictions.


Working in partnership with King and Snohomish Counties, Waste Management completed a review of more than 20 multifamily programs from around the world. The goal of the project was to identify programs and strategies that met two criteria:

1) The programs were using tactics or tools not yet implemented in Washington State.
2) The programs had measurable results in improving multifamily recycling.

For this project, eight international programs were selected for comprehensive review and featured case studies. To the extent possible, both quantitative data and anecdotal evidence were gathered about the effect of these strategies on key measures including waste diversion and recycling rates, resident participation, and contamination. The team also made an effort to understand the costs and efforts involved in designing and implementing the strategies. Each of the case studies included in the final report is unique and was designed to address specific challenges and achieve specific goals in the community where it was implemented.



A total of 22 programs were identified, and case studies were written for the top eight programs which had both measurable results and utilized strategies that have not yet been implemented in Washington State. Countries represented in these case studies include Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal and the United States. The resulting report has been shared with the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Washington State Recycling Association and municipal solid waste staff across the state, including all 60 cities located within King and Snohomish Counties.

The program strategies identified in the international case studies will be incorporated into pilot programs for multifamily properties in the Snohomish and King County WUTC areas in 2013.


Key barriers to recycling at multifamily properties were identified, and assessed whether each was a "major" or "minor" issue. Using a list of strategies drawn from the case study research and literature review, the team matched strategies to relevant barriers, and identified the relevant actors related to each strategy.

In reflecting on the barriers and strategies identified, the team agreed that there are opportunities for addressing both infrastructure and behavior barriers through pilot projects, and that more discussion and research is needed to understand what options there are for infrastructure improvements before pilot strategies can be selected.

The team agreed that one major next step includes mapping WUTC multifamily property locations to confirm that they are in the Waste Management WUTC area. In King County, the GIS analysis will also help to guide selection of a sample of multifamily properties for onsite audits (these were already completed in Snohomish County). The baseline data collected through onsite audits will inform pilot site selection to ensure that selected sites align with target resident population demographics (Latino residents in particular), and that selected strategies account for infrastructure conditions at pilot sites.



Washington State Recycling Association Multifamily Recycling Study Group




Multifamily Recycling in Snohomish and King County WUTC Areas: Pilot Projects Brainstorming and Development Work Session

Sample Multifamily promotion from Waste Management Canada

Represent King and Snohomish Counties on the Washington State Recycling Association's Multi-family Recycling Study Group, a workgroup focused on documenting Washington State multifamily recycling programs and national multifamily program best practices.


Gain a better understanding of multifamily education and outreach tactics used by Waste Management by conducting an internal review of all Waste Management multifamily programs offered throughout the company's North American service area to determine whether innovative strategies and tactics are being used and can be modified for local implementation. Interview staff and review multifamily program strategies, materials and outcomes to identify and document internal best practices.

Throughout 2012, Waste Management participated in the Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) Multifamily Recycling Study Group (WAMRS). Waste Management staff served on both committees of the WAMRS Work Group-the Survey Committee and the Research Committee. As part of this work, Waste Management assisted with literature review, conducted Best Management Practices (BMPs) research and helped identify property managers for the final phase of the project, a property manager survey. Property managers who were asked to take part in this survey included managers of complexes served by Waste Management, managers suggested by cities, counties and other haulers.

This study is the first of its kind in Washington State, and will establish the baseline of existing programs and create a library of outreach strategies, materials and toolkits from programs across the United States. WSRA will share these findings, and these resources will be synthesized to develop new outreach strategies to pilot programs targeting WUTC multifamily properties in 2013.



Waste Management staff served on both WAMRS committees- Survey and Research, and assisted with literature review, BMPs research and helped identify property managers for the final phase of the project, a property manager survey. The final report will be released at the 2013 WSRA Conference and Trade Show (May 12-15) and presented at an all-day workshop in June 2013.


The survey results are not available yet. When the final WAMRS report is published in May, Waste Management will work with King and Snohomish Counties to review the report for strategies and best practices that can be incorporated into future multifamily pilot projects and outreach resources.



Snohomish County Multifamily Recycling Assistance




The full report: Recycling Research and Outreach at WUTC Multifamily Properties in Snohomish County

Conduct onsite outreach for multifamily properties in order to provide educational materials to residents and property managers, document on-site waste and recycling collection systems and services and obtain baseline information on resident and property manager recycling knowledge, practices, barriers, and motivations.


Waste Management undertook extensive work in Snohomish County to develop a baseline of information on the multifamily complexes in Waste Management's WUTC areas. For each property, Waste Management staff worked with a multi-lingual outreach team to complete site visits at all 53 complexes. At each site, the outreach team delivered educational materials to residents, updated container decals, conducted visual waste audits of garbage and recycling containers and completed property manager interviews and a resident survey.



Site visits and visual waste audits were completed for 53 Snohomish County WUTC multifamily properties. During these visits, the outreach team distributed recycling guidelines for residents door-to-door at 27 (52%) of the audited properties, provided resource packets to 36 (69%) property managers and applied 332 new decals onto dumpsters with missing or old decals.

In addition to the site visits, the outreach team surveyed 30 residents from 27 different properties and 52 of the 53 property managers. Property managers participating in the survey represented 4,903 units, or 90% of the total estimated number of units captured in this project.

As a result of this project, Waste Management was able to obtain baseline information on resident and property manager recycling knowledge, practices, barriers, and motivations; document on-site waste and recycling collection systems and services; and provide educational materials to residents and property managers. This project provided valuable information about the successes, concerns and opportunities for improvement at multifamily properties in WUTC areas of Snohomish County. Information from this set of multifamily properties may also help inform strategies for outreach to multifamily properties in other areas.


The baseline research conducted throughout the course of this project was an essential look into site-specific opportunities and barriers at WUTC multifamily properties.

As part of the onsite outreach, residents and property managers were encouraged to participate in a survey about recycling behaviors and perceived barriers to participation in the property's recycling program. As part of the resident survey, respondents were read a list of ways that managers had tried to increase participation in recycling. The residents were asked what would motivate them to recycle more or at all, and asked to indicate "yes", "no", or "don't know" for each potential motivation.

Resident Survey: What would help you recycle more?



The majority of respondents (16) indicated they would recycle more if dumpsters were in more convenient locations. Free tote bags for bringing recyclables from one's home to the dumpsters were also high motivators (13), followed by a mandate for recycling (12), educational materials (11) and financial incentives (10). Nine residents indicated that seeing their neighbors recycle would motivate them to recycle more although about the same number of residents (10) also responded that they were not sure if seeing neighbors would encourage them or not. Ultimately, dumpster locations seem to be the most important motivator for residents when it comes to encouraging them to recycle.

In the property manager survey, managers were asked what they believed the single largest barrier is for residents when it comes to effectively recycling at their building. When compared side-by-side, property managers and residents appear to have different perspectives on the potential barriers to recycling except for the response, "recycling location not convenient", which was a top response for both managers (2) and residents (4). Property managers also responded that "not having enough bins" (3) and "laziness" (3) were top reasons that their residents might not recycle. The majority of property managers (4) responded that they "don't know" why residents do not recycle effectively.

All of the findings in the report are being used to develop the next phase of multifamily outreach and 2013 pilot projects.




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