Recycling Better An Expert Discusses What Condos and Co-ops Can Do

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Unless it wants to face the wrath of the law (i.e., a fine of up to several hundred dollars), every residential building in New York City must recycle. While the bar for doing the bare minimum is quite easy to clear, dedication to and quality of recycling programs vary. For every board that promotes composting and tends to a green roof, there’s another that allows the various bins in the recycling room to pile high with all sorts of miscellaneous and non-reusable garbage.

The Cooperator spoke with Jacquie Ottman, Chair of the non-profit organization Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board, to discuss how a co-op or condo building can take a more proactive approach to recycling.

The Cooperator: What’s your general take on the overall status of recycling programs in high-rise and multi-family housing?

Jacquie Ottman: Here’s the deal: high-rise recycling participation lags behind that of single-family homes. The reasons behind this are fairly intuitive and obvious. There will always be outliers in a multi-family building who simply do not care about recycling, and there’s great opportunity for anonymity in a 17-floor building when you’re just sending rubbish down a shoot.

And once a recycling area starts getting sloppy, those residents who have been swayed to make an effort may quickly lose their ambition.

Exactly. There’s also a transitive nature in these buildings, where new people are coming in or out, so you really need to stay on top of the education. And then you have the subletters…renters just don’t tend to care as much as the owners.

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