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Multi-Family Recycling

Mandatory Recycling Ordinance

Visit for more information on the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance in Alameda County. 

The support of on-site management plays an important role in the recycling program’s success. There are several things that can be done to help make recycling in multi-family complexes convenient and understandable. Setting up convenient carts or bins and educating tenants are essential to the program’s success and required under the Alameda County Waste Management Authority Mandatory Recycling Ordinance 2012-01.

As of July 1, 2014, the Mandatory Recycling Ordinance requires multi-family property owners to also provide containers and service of sufficient number, size and frequency for organics (food scraps and compostable paper) in some jurisdictions. Find rules for your city for more details about Ordinance requirements.

Additional best practices


  • Required: Recycling should be just as convenient as taking out the garbage. Provide containers for recyclables at the same location where garbage cans or dumpsters are kept. Organics containers are also required in some cities. Visit for details.
  • Place recycling containers in common areas such as the mail area and laundry room. 


  • Required: Recycling containers must be large enough to hold all of the recyclables generated on site. If your garbage bin is consistently partially empty, contact your service provider or city recycling program to find out about getting a smaller bin. It is often more cost effective to call the garbage hauler for occasional special pick-ups, than to maintain peak capacity year round. 
  • Cardboard: If your complex generates a lot of cardboard, consult with your service provider or city recycling program to find out about getting a bin for cardboard collection. Search our RE:Source guide for “cardboard” for additional resources.
  • For new construction or major rehabs, Space Guidelines for Recycling, Organics and Refuse Services for Designers of Multifamily and Commercial Buildings (PDF) provides guidelines to help designers of multi-family and commercial buildings plan for recycling and organics collection. 

Labels and Signage

  • Required: Post prominent signs on or near the garbage and recycling containers, clearly indicating which are the garbage containers and which are the recycling containers. Signs must clearly communicate what goes into the recycling containers.
  • Visit for support materials, including sample signage (printable download). Your service provider or city recycling program may be able to help provide signage. 


  • Required: Provide tenants with information at least annually describing where garbage, recycling and organics (if applicable) containers are located and how to use them.
  • Required: Provide recycling information to tenants no later than 14 days after move-in and no less than 14 days prior to move-out.
  • Visit for support materials, including sample tenant notification language.

Addressing Hard-to-Recycle Materials

  • Bulky waste: Frequent tenant moves may generate large amounts of bulky goods (such as furniture, appliances and mattresses) and other reusable items. Several local non-profits and charities will accept these items and many will even pick them up. Visit the RE:Source guide and search for the items you seek to recycle (i.e., couch, mattress) for additional resources. Also see Additional Ideas below. 
  • Electronics: For disposal of electronic waste (such as TVs, computers, monitors and other electronic goods) consult your service provider or city recycling program. Many electronic items can be donated for reuse. Broken and obsolete items can be salvaged or recycled. 
  • Motor Oil: Several cities collect used motor oil from multifamily complexes. Search RE:Source or contact your service provider or city recycling program to find out how and where used motor oil is collected in your city. Other options for used motor oil disposal include drop-off facilities or Household Hazardous Waste. 
  • Household Hazardous Wastes (HHW): HHW encompasses a wide range of materials such as paint, pesticides, cleaners, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries or any product that contains potentially harmful or dangerous chemicals. These products should never be poured down the drain or put in the trash. Dispose of these materials by taking them to one of the HHW facilities in FremontHaywardOakland or Livermore.

Reuse Ideas

  • Share tables: Some complexes set up ‘share tables’ where people can leave behind unwanted goods and exchange them for others. Share tables should be regularly monitored by a volunteer or staff person. Lingering items should be donated to local charity on a regular basis. 
  • Apartment-wide garage sale: Some apartment complexes have found that hosting a swap meet at the apartment complex is a great way to exchange unwanted items and also meet more neighbors. 

More on Recycling

Click here for information for residents and tenants of multi-family buildings.