- Commercial and multi-unit residential buildings in Orlando, Florida will be required to offer recycling under two related ordinances passed by the city council earlier this week. The changes will be phased in over four years.
- One ordinance states that building owners must provide a recycling container, arrange for recyclable material collection, and maintain and submit verification records. The other ordinance details the types of acceptable recycling services and containers, as well as container locations.
- All new residential and commercial construction projects will have to submit a recycling plan by Oct. 1 to receive a certificate of occupancy. Large multi-family residential buildings of at least 250 units, and commercial buildings of at least 200,000 square feet, must offer recycling by April 1, 2020. Residences of 74 units or more, and commercial buildings of 100,000-199,999 square feet must comply by April 21, 2021. Small residences of 4-74 units and all commercial buildings must comply by April 1, 2023.
The Orlando City Council's stated goal with this new policy is part of a broader aim to "divert waste to the landfill to zero" by 2040. As part of that goal, Orlando has worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in recent years to pilot its "Beyond 34" initiative – a reference to the EPA's stated national recycling rate.
Prior to the ordinance's passage, Orlando did not have a commercial recycling program, and residential participation for both single-family and multi-family buildings was voluntary. The ordinance, which references growing public interest in recycling programs across the city, was seen as a natural next step.
More municipalities are requiring that property owners offer recycling at apartment and commercial buildings, which generate far more volume than the single-family residential properties generally targeted. Logistics about whether multi-family buildings are serviced under the same system as single-family are often another complicating factor.
Last summer, the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance requiring recycling to be offered at multi-family buildings with more than eight units, noting that while more than half the city's population lived in multi-family buildings, less than 25% of them had access to recycling. Toronto cited very similar statistics in 2016 when targeting multi-family residences for an increase in diversion rate.
At the same time, mandating that building owners offer recycling doesn’t in itself guarantee higher diversion rates, as Chicago discovered when it stepped up efforts to enforce a decades-long requirement for multi-unit recycling in 2016. People may not use recycling services even when they’re offered, and it's often difficult to track participation in multi-unit buildings. Space constraints are another challenge for commercial and multi-family building recycling, especially when it comes to compliance with measures such as Orlando's second ordinance specifying container types and locations.