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Indian Condo Recycles Organic Waste, Grows 300kg Grapes

Most municipalities now have recycling programs for single residential and low density housing. With curb or alley pick-up, multi-bin pickup works well, is reasonably economical, and has proven very successful in reducing the volume required to dump.

Condominiums have proven significantly more difficult to bring on line. Many condominium were built 10 or more years ago – and don’t include appropriate space or facilities to recycle. Personally, my first condo we bought was a 1970s built building and while we tried implementing a recycling program during my time on the board, we cancelled it shortly thereafter. There wasn’t an appropriate space that could collect the recyclables and allow access to a company to remove the materials.

Even new builds may not have appropriate space – there is little profit for builders to add additional space just for recycling.

For condominiums that do successfully recycle, they tend to be limited to hard-materials (cans, glass, papers). There is little opportunity for kitchen or biodegradable waste.

In the gated community of  Beverley Park-1, Gurgaon, India there has been a very successful pilot project with biodegradable. In part driven by illegal dumping in their area, they looked at a solution that would empower them to help address the dumping problem locally.

The condominium has been using organic waste converters to produce manure for their orchards, mini plantations and park. The success of the program this year has allowed them to harvest over 300kg of grapes, and a variety of other fruits including oranges, lemons, and peaches. They now have been able to fertilize 4,000 sqm or green space without artificial fertilizer.

Most North America condominiums aren’t as lucky to have available or owned green space to use processed organic waste on. For those that have the available space, municipal and federal laws can prove a significant deterrent as well to organic recycling.  Successful projects, like this one in the McKee Condominiums, Bellevue, Washington, are few and far between.

In all, there are significant barriers for existing condominium in the face or recycling – traditional or organic. A proactive municipality could change that going forward. Making recycling facilities a requirement of any new condominium or HOA development, along with new legislation that promotes and encourages recycling would go far in bringing around a green city.

Recycling Facilities in New Condominiums Should Be Mandatory

As the president of a 40 year old 100 unit condominium complex I was completely stymied over the ineffectiveness of our recycling program.

Because of limitations on our trash compactor, along with the simple desire to offer recycling separation and pickup to over 250 residents, we converted one of the large rooms entering into the underground parkade into a separation station. We hoped to reduce our trash output (reduce the number of pickups) and become more environmentally responsible.

Unfortunately the location proved troublesome. It wasn’t attached to a trash room (each floor has a garbage shoot) which meant it was easier for owners to still dump recyclable material in the shoot. The room was very difficult for the recycling company to access – they needed access to the garage, and then building keys, along with extra room to maneuver their trailers in and out of a parkade. Without monitoring, the bins sitting right along a major owner though fare from the garage turned it into a dumping ground for garbage as well.

We pulled the program from the unit after six months.

As such, I’m all in favour of building regulations for new multi-unit residences, just like requiring things like dedicated visitor parking and handicap access, have a requirement to a recycling separation room (or rooms) that are easily accessed from a road, or otherwise build separation facilities into the functionality of the building. This should be mandated. Required. Legislated.

Sure – developers will scream that this will only add to the cost of the units they sell, but it likely will benefit the residence with lower trash removal costs and compliance with municipal recycling targets. Retrofitting recycling space is extremely difficult (or in our case impossible). It has to be included up front with all new buildings.

For those that don’t have recycling currently, many municipalities will offer free consulting and even materials (bins, notices, tenant communication) to get your condominium recycling.