Sunday, December 12, 2010

San Antonio to require Apartment owners to offer recycling if proposed ordinance passes

Although curbside one bin recycling has been a part of trash service provided to single family homes and some duplexes and tri and four plexes by the City of San Antonio' Solid Waste Management Department for several years, multi-family residents have not had access to recycling unless the apartment owner has made special arrangements with their trash hauler.

Since at least 25% of households in San Antonio live in apartments that's a lot of recyclables going into the landfill.

Now it looks like the city council is going to require multi-family complexes to offer recycling and to have their recycling plans approved by the city. According to the Express News some business interests are asking that the plan be delayed.

Below you can find the text of the supporting documents that were included in the council's 12/09/2010.

Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance


The City of San Antonio's 10-Year Recycling and Resource Recovery Plan, approved by City Council in June 2010, strives to ensure convenient access to recycling for all residents of San Antonio and increase waste diversion from local landfills.  This ordinance will require owners and managers of all multi-family properties to provide adequate and convenient recycling collection services for residents.


Ensuring that San Antonio residents living in multi-family units have convenient access to recycling programs is a key component of the 10-Year Recycling and Resource Recovery Plan approved by City Council in June 2010.  Multi-family property units represent approximately 30% of all housing units in San Antonio and generate between 100,000 and 150,000 tons of waste annually.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency's estimates, over 50% of household waste is paper, plastic, metals, and glass.  These items are generally accepted in a single-stream recycling program.

Over the past 16 months, the Solid Waste Management Department has met with property owners, managers, tenants, private waste haulers and various associations to design a multi-family recycling policy that will effectively recover recyclable waste.  On September 29, 2010, staff provided an update on the multi-family recycling ordinance at a City Council “B” Session and anticipated bringing the ordinance forward for consideration of adoption in December 2010, allowing additional time for the San Antonio Apartment Association to work through the new ordinance.

Since the last update to City Council on this topic in September, the Department has met with stakeholders and organizations that potentially will be affected by this ordinance.  Staff has met with the San Antonio Housing Authority on numerous occasions.  Staff also has met with Downtown Residents Association Board of Directors and the Community Association Institute (an organization that represents most local condominium associations) and has continued to engage the San Antonio Apartment Association.  These organizations are generally supportive of the proposed ordinance.

During November 2010, the Department held an additional four community meetings across the City, hosting a total of eight community meetings in the last several months.  These meetings offered the opportunity to explain the proposed policy and to receive feedback from property owners and managers.  Overall, these eight meetings allowed staff to reach approximately 250 owners and managers.  The result of this process is a proposed recycling policy that emphasizes tenant education and outreach, provides collection flexibility for spatial constraints, and ensures effective program delivery through performance measurement.


This policy item provides a recommended proposed ordinance that would regulate recycling at multi-family complexes.  The proposed policy would require all multi-family complexes within the City to provide adequate and convenient recycling service to all residents.  The policy includes a phased-in service delivery approach over a twelve month period where the larger complexes would begin providing recycling services opportunity first.  Specific requirements of the ordinance include:

Provision of Recycling Services

The requirement to provide service will be phased-in over time, with larger multi-family complexes going first.  The following table outlines the required date for starting recycling service.  All owners/managers of multi-family complexes regardless of size will be required to submit a recycling plan to the City three months prior to the start of recycling services at the complex.  This plan will be reviewed by the City and approved if acceptable.  The City will provide ample technical and other assistance toward the development of these plans.

Complex Size

Recycling Service to Start By:

300 units or more July 1, 2011

200 to 299 units October 1, 2011

100 to 199 units January 1, 2012

3 to 99 units April 1, 2012

If the Department rejects the recycling plan, the owner or manager of the multi-family property has thirty (30) days from notification of the rejection to submit a revised plan for approval.  Even if a recycling plan is rejected, the owner or manager of the multi-family property must start the service by the date prescribed.
Owners or managers of new multi-family properties established or receiving a certificate of occupancy after April 1, 2012 shall provide a recycling plan within 30 days after receiving a certificate of occupancy and the recycling collection service shall start within 30 days of receiving approval for their recycling plan

Updates to the recycling plan are required when there is a change in the ownership or a change of management of the property, a change in recycling collector services, and/or a change in the method of collection, such as a change in the types of containers.

Collection and Container Requirements
The goal is to provide recycling services that are as convenient to the tenant and resident as garbage collection service.  Tenants and residents in multi-family complexes need to be provided with access to recycling collection service that is equivalent to access provided for garbage collection service.

The placement of recycling containers must be as close as possible to garbage containers.  The “Exhibit A” attached to this briefing memo is a reflective example of this.
Minimum parking requirements may be reduced to provide adequate space for recycling container storage.

Containers must incorporate signage that indicates container is for recyclables only and a list of accepted recyclable materials.

Education Requirements
* Tenants must be provided information on recycling services (i.e., location of containers and accepted recyclable materials) upon commencement of the recycling program.
* Tenants must be provided information on recycling services (i.e., location of containers and accepted recyclable materials) on move-in.
* Tenants must be notified should any change in recycling collection service occur.
* The Department will provide educational and promotional materials, introductory letters, and signage to multi-family property owners in electronic format.

Collector Requirements
* Collectors must submit an annual performance report by March 1 of each year, starting March 1, 2012.

Should City Council choose not to support these strategies, staff would explore other strategies to improve recycling at multi-family complexes.  Other strategies for the multi-family recycling program might include setting a minimum level on the number of units needed for compliance or extending the period for compliance.

Through the FY2011 Budget process, the Department allocated $250,000.00 for the multi-family recycling program implementation.

Staff recommends approval of this ordinance requiring multi-family properties to provide or contract for on-site recycling collection service, in accordance with initiatives adopted in the 10-Year Recycling and Resource Recovery Plan.

File Description    File Name
Exhibit A-Multi-family Recycling Container Replacement     Exhibit A-Multi-Family Recycling Container Placement.pdf
Proposed Multi-Family Ordinance     Proposed MF Recycling Ordinance 12 03 2010 DL4 _2_.pdf
Voting Results     

David W. McCary       Director       Solid Waste Management

Peter Zanoni       Assistant City Manager       

Thanks to Concerned Citizens for posting about this on Facebook.

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