How to Compost at Multi-Family Homes: 6 Easy Steps for Building Managers

Guest blogger, Rob Hanke of  Recology Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling explains how building managers can effectively implement compost programs at multi-family homes.


In the past, multi-family buildings have lacked comprehensive compost program implementation.  On October 21, 2009 San Francisco passed an ordinance that required everyone in San Francisco to participate in adequate refuse recovery (recycling and compost).  As a result, we have seen a significant increase in participation at multi-family buildings.  As of November 2009, current statistics illustrate 52% of multi-family buildings have started compost service in their buildings.  This increase demonstrates multi-family buildings are complying with the ordinance, but how successful and sustainable are their programs?

I have developed a checklist to help plan, implement and sustain a successful composting service in multi-family buildings.  The checklist is a guide property/building managers that provides structure and education and enhances the likelihood of successful compost programs.  By following the six step process, property/building managers can evolve their compost program and encourage participation in their buildings.  

There are no cost factors with the checklist because it is intended to be emailed to the property/building managers dealing with the implementation process.

I believe this checklist will serve everyone in achieving San Francisco’s 75% diversion goal by 2010.

Step 1: Designate a Coordinator

  • Property or Building Manager
  • Maintenance staff
  • Green Committee
  • Motivated tenants

 Step 2: Decide on Containers & Supplies Needed (provided by Recology)

  • Green collection cart (32 or 64 gallon)    
  • Kitchen pail for each unit
  • Informational posters, fliers and stickers

 Step 3: Arrange Service with Recology

  • Determine if cart will be serviced curbside or inside (if inside provide new key and confirm service instructions).
  • Determine delivery date, contact person to accept delivery, frequency of collection and service start date.
  • Call 415. 626.4000 or 415.330.1300 to arrange service.
  • Delivery will include cart, pails, & green cart starter kit (set up guide & posters).

Step 4:  Set Up Storage & Collection

  • Determine if green internal bins will be placed on each floor with signage above (typically next to a chute or recycle bins in a chute/trash room).
  • Plan with staff the transportation of material from internal locations to the central collection area.
  • Create a map of site with compost locations clearly marked.

Step 5:  Educate

  • Send memo or email to tenants explaining compost program (i.e., why, how, what, where, when)
  • Post information on compost program throughout building (e.g., mailboxes, elevator, laundry areas, garage, etc.)
  • Host a kick-off meeting with tenants to explain program and hand out pails.
  • Hand out pails door to door to each tenant.
  • For more information, refer tenants to website: RecologySF.com

 Step 6: Monitor

  • Monitor green cart regularly for contamination.
  • Keep cart clean by rinsing regularly.
  • Schedule post-launch tenant meeting.
  • Keep tenants informed of their progress.
  • Troubleshoot operational issues.

Other Useful Tips

  • Network with other Property Managers.
  • Distribute program reminders through emails, fliers and tenant meetings.
  • Involve tenants and maintenance staff to improve the compost program.
  • Include recycle and compost information in move-in and move-out packets (provided by Recology).
  • Line pail with newspaper or paper bag.
  • Collect food scraps in a paper milk carton or ice cream container.  Place the entire paper container in the collection cart.
  • Purchase compostable bags if needed to line pail or cart.
  • Empty pail frequently.
  • Sprinkle baking soda in kitchen pail and collection cart to reduce odors.
  • Freeze or refrigerate compost until placed in green cart.

Contact Recology Sales Department to request educational materials, trainings or to tour a facility (415.626.4000).

5 Responses to “How to Compost at Multi-Family Homes: 6 Easy Steps for Building Managers

  • Tilda Neymeyer
    9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. Sharing is caring after all.

  • Very interesting post. I’ve found your website on Yahoo, and I’ve been reading some useful information on it. Keep up the good work.

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    9 years ago

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  • Glenda Fisanick
    9 years ago

    I was looking for information on this subject and found your blog, it hit the spot! Thanks for taking the time to do this I really appreciated it. I’ll be back to check for new posts! Have a good one.

  • Malewski689
    9 years ago

    Hi, I am not so sure that I agree with all the stuff in this article, but damn it do I respect it!

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