Written by Calvin Lakhan, Ph.D, Co-Investigator: “The Waste Wiki” – Faculty of Environment and Urban Change at York University

I recently completed examining best practices for organics diversion in multi-residential buildings. These best practices have been identified after undertaking a meta-analysis of studies and reports looking at the most effective strategies for managing organic waste in multi-residential settings.

The quest for efficient organics diversion in multi-residential buildings is a multifaceted endeavor, requiring a harmonious blend of education, infrastructure, community engagement, and policy support. This report has navigated through the complexities of implementing successful organics diversion programs and has presented evidence-backed strategies that can significantly elevate the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Key to the success of such programs is the integration of continuous educational efforts that not only inform but also empower residents. Workshops, information sessions, and welcome kits are essential tools in building a knowledgeable community that understands the importance of their participation in organics diversion. Clear signage and labeling further streamline the process, making it easier for residents to make the right choices when disposing of waste.

Community engagement and the formation of resident committees have proven to be powerful catalysts for change, transforming individual efforts into collective action. These groups serve as the cornerstone of a community’s environmental initiatives, driving participation and fostering a culture of sustainability within multi-residential settings.

Infrastructure considerations, including the strategic placement of bins and the optimization of space, are practical components that facilitate the ease of organic waste diversion. The design of these systems must be user-friendly and accommodate the unique needs of high-density living environments.

Policy measures and incentives play a critical role in reinforcing organics diversion programs. Mandates, clear guidelines, and fines for non-compliance set a standard for residents to follow, while incentives and rewards serve to motivate and recognize their efforts. These policies, combined with engaging educational campaigns, ensure a comprehensive approach to managing organic waste.

The case studies presented in my report, ranging from the Toronto Green Bin Program to Seattle’s Food Waste Ban, provide tangible evidence of the effectiveness of these best practices. They illustrate the transformative potential of well-executed organics diversion programs and offer a blueprint for other cities and communities to emulate.

In conclusion, the successful diversion of organics in multi-residential buildings is attainable through a concerted effort that encompasses education, engagement, convenient infrastructure, and supportive policy frameworks. By embracing these best practices, multi-residential communities can significantly contribute to environmental sustainability, enhance soil health, and play a pivotal role in the circular economy. As we move forward, it is imperative that these practices are not seen as a final destination but as an evolving process that adapts to new challenges and opportunities in the pursuit of a waste-free future.

A downloadable link to google drive can be found here.