Three-stream waste collection coming to multi-unit residences in Edmonton

Edmontonians living in multi-unit complexes, including apartments and condos, could begin to sort their waste into food scraps, recycling and garbage beginning in 2023.

“Between now and 2023, we’ll be working behind the scenes to update the Waste Services Bylaw to reflect the new program,” said Chris Fowler, Acting Director, Waste Strategy, at the City of Edmonton.

“We’ll work to ensure future developments can accommodate the new system, and we’ll work with existing properties to plan for implementation. Every property is different, so we need time to get it right.”

Once residents get the hang of sorting their waste, the new program is expected to divert eight percent of multi-unit residential waste from the landfill. 

“The recommendations in these reports will provide a timeline and some clarity for what three-stream collection will look like for multi-unit residents and managers,” said Fowler.

These reports are the Multi-unit Strategy Report and the Business Case for Residential Communal Collection, which have now been released to the public. 

This communal collection area has co-located garbage and recycling bins. In the future, an organics bin or carts would be added.

Communal area, scraps pail, garbage chutes 

The main recommendation is that each multi-unit complex have an equally accessible area where receptacles for each waste stream are co-located. 

Residents would receive a food scraps pail they would empty into assigned bins in their building’s communal garbage area.

Separating food scraps from garbage saves valuable space in the landfill, and helps process organic material into valued compost. The kitchen pail simplifies food scrap separation.

As well, property managers would have the option of closing garbage chutes. 

“We know that multi-units come in all shapes and sizes and each has a unique set of needs,” said Fowler. “We will work with individual properties to implement a system that’s best for them.” 

Two phases of public engagement have already happened with multi-unit residents and other stakeholders, including property managers and waste haulers and processors. 

The recommendations in the report still have to go to a City Council Utility Committee meeting, and then to a full meeting of City Council. 

Big picture 

The multi-unit recommendations flow from the 25-year Waste Strategy, which aims at achieving a 90 per cent residential diversion rate across the city. This rate measures how much of the waste Edmontonians generate in their homes stays out of the landfill. It accounts for the impact of recycling, organics processing, reuse and more.  

As part of that effort, single-unit residents across Edmonton have been receiving a set of two carts—black for garbage, green for food scraps and other organic waste—along with a kitchen scraps pail. More than half of single-unit Edmontonians have their carts.

Communication 

The City is committed to getting the word out as multi-unit complexes move toward source separation.

“We will  work with property managers to support them throughout this transition by developing comprehensive communication, education and outreach,” said Fowler.

And for condo and apartment residents, too. 

“We know change can be confusing, but we’ll be here to support you during the transition,” said Fowler. “The great thing is that when your time to switch comes, you’ll be receiving communication material and using tools, like our WasteWise app, that build on what worked during our single-unit roll out.”

The multi-unit reports will be discussed by the Utility Committee on June 25.

Editor’s note: find out more, way more, about multi-unit communal collection coming in Edmonton. Find the WasteWise app at edmonton.ca/waste, or in the iTunes and Google Play stores.