If you live in an apartment in the Portland area, it’s probably harder to recycle than if you lived in a single-family home.

And your access to recycling could vary significantly from a tenant in an apartment down the street.

These are some of the findings from a recent Metro report on the state of recycling in apartment and condominium buildings in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

Researchers found that 8 percent of multifamily buildings in the tri-county area don’t offer mixed recycling service, and 28 percent lack recycling service for glass. Many apartment buildings have inadequate bin space available for garbage and recycling, leading to overflows.

The research, conducted over the past year at a cost of  $105,000, will help Metro and local cities begin a regional effort to improve access to recycling for everyone who lives in the region, and increase the recycling rate for those who live in apartments.

Research included a sampling of what services are being provided building to building, data on what’s actually going into the garbage and recycling bins, and interviews with residents.

“It’s exciting to have some regionally specific data to use to make improvements,” says Sara Kirby, Metro solid waste planner. “We’ve never had the whole picture.”

In Multnomah County, 40 percent of the housing is multifamily, more than in suburban areas. However, in coming years, a greater share of new housing in many parts of the region is projected to come from multifamily units.

Providing consistent services from one apartment to another is a challenge because of the variation in building types and layouts, Kirby says. And there are no standards across the region regarding how much recycling service landlords should provide, such as the size and number of bins.

“In some parts of the region, you could move across the street and have different-colored bins,” Kirby says. Some recycling bins hold multiple generations of signs and stickers, including outdated ones that are 30 years old.

That can be confusing for newcomers to the region, who often first land in an apartment, Kirby says.

Add to this the high tenant turnover rate in apartments, and recycling can be pretty confusing. Property managers also turn over frequently, making it challenging to ensure they are providing accurate information to their tenants.

To read the full story, visit http://www.pamplinmedia.com/sl/371506-252258-the-challenges-of-recycling-at-apartments.