Multi Family Waste Diversion

The Town of Okotoks continues to be committed to reducing waste and maximizing the lifespan of the Foothills Regional Landfill and Resource Recovery Centre.  In 2014 Council adopted the comprehensive 2020 Waste Management Plan; an objective of this plan is to divert 80% of the waste produced in Okotoks from the landfill by 2020.   To help achieve this goal is all multi-family residential properties must have a recycling collection program in place by July 1, 2017 and an organics collection program in place by January 1, 2018.

Waste diversion programs support local businesses, stimulate the economy, provide meaningful employment opportunities, potentially increase property values due to less local landfills and enhance the overall feeling of well-being in the community. 

The Town of Okotoks is pleased to provide assistance to the multi – family sector with implementing these programs in complexes such as apartments, condominiums and housing cooperatives.

Your efforts and participation will continue to move the Town of Okotoks towards building a unique, resilient, sustainable community.

What is a multi-family residential property?

A multi-family residential property is a group of two or more dwelling units including apartments, condominiums and housing cooperatives.

What is required of a multi-family residential property?

Waste Bylaw 18-16 was adopted at the Town of Okotoks Council meeting on September 26, 2016.  This bylaw requires that by July 1, 2017 each multi-family residential property provides, at their own expense, a sufficient number of waste receptacles and/or commercial containers to hold a minimum of one week’s accumulation of recyclable materials. Recyclable materials must be collected in separate waste receptacles and/or commercial containers to prevent cross contamination and be disposed of at a material recovery facility (MRF).

Waste Bylaw 18-16 also requires that by January 1, 2018 each multi-family residential property provides, at their own expense, a sufficient number of waste receptacles and/or commercial containers to hold a minimum of one week’s accumulation of organic materials produced from all units in the complex.  Organic materials must be collected in separate waste receptacles and/or commercial containers to prevent cross contamination and are to be disposed of at an organic waste processing facility.

Who is responsible?

The building owner, manager or condo board association person(s) is responsible for implementing the recycling program.  The individual residents are required to follow the program requirements.  

A step by step guide to setting up your program
Step One - Inform your residents.

It will be up to each individual multi-family residential property to decide when they would like to inform their residents of the new comprehensive waste management program. Advising building occupants early will also allow residents who are interested in waste management programs to assist with the implementation. They may have recommendations on where the bins should be located and can help with the education component of using the program.

You can generate support by including the residents and condo boards in the planning process and working together to decide what is best for the complex. Residents who are unsure of the program and are hesitant to participate can be reassured by those residents who are invested in the program because of its convenience and ease of use.

Step Two - Who will collect all the materials?

If you currently have a private hauler collecting your multi-family residential property’s garbage we suggest your first step is to contact the private hauler and inquire if they are able to collect recycling and organics. If you have a contract with a private hauler, inquire if you can amend the contact to include these additional items. Ask if there are any cost savings for bundling the

As you are discussing implementing the program with the private haulers it is important to ensure they can accept the materials required to be diverted from the waste stream in Okotoks. The following page has a list of items deemed recyclable and compostable in the Town of Okotoks Waste Bylaw 18-16. The Town of Okotoks may be able provide services for any properties interested in using existing Town garbage, recycling and organics removal. All billing will be provided directly to the Condominium Board/Association. Please contact Waste Services online or phone 403-938-8054 for more information.

Step Three - Determine where and how your materials will be stored and collected.

Each multi-family residential property is different.  What works for one property may not work for another.  Below are some guidelines on what is required and ideas for determining what may work on your property: 

  • Find a convenient on-site location to store your property’s garbage, recycling and organics.  The more convenient the location the more likely your residents are to use it.
  • If any alterations are required to the existing property (e.g. a parking spot needs to be removed to make room for a commercial container), please contact the Town of Okotoks Planning Department for more information.
  • If possible, ensure consistency with other programs.  For example, industry standard is that black containers are for garbage, blue containers are for recyclables, and green containers are for organics.  This is the common colour coding in most Canadian municipalities.
  • Ensure there are enough containers for the materials you are accepting.
  • Consider downsizing the garbage container. 
  • Consider using smaller containers on each floor of the building or even one in each unit.
  • Consider cooperating with another nearby complex: one could use their garbage enclosure for garbage and organics, the other could use theirs for recycling.
  • Ensure the containers are in a safe location and are in compliance with the Alberta Fire Code.  If they are placed outside, ensure they are not blocking fire hydrants and there is enough space for fire services as well as your collector to access them.
  • Do not place containers under eaves, carports or building over-hangs.
  • Keep the area well-lit and tidy.
  • Ensure there is adequate, clear, visible signage in your common areas, storage and collection areas.
  • Keep all containers in good condition. 
Step Four - Educate!

Provide your residents with an information package that contains:

  • Where the bins are located.
  • What may or may not be recycled or composted.
  • How the materials should be prepared and/or sorted.
  • How to get rid of other items not accepted in your program, such as household hazardous waste, furniture, electronics, paint etc.
  • Ensure new residents are informed of the program requirements when they move in.
  • Follow up with new residents to see how they are managing with the program.
  • Consider including the waste management program in your Lease Agreement.

Try to use as many pictures as possible; pictures will grab the person’s attention quickly and can assist with any language barriers. 

The Town of Okotoks has many educational resources available during your implementation, including posters, brochures and an education team that can assist at any time.  Please contact 403-938-8054 or email for more information.

Step Five - Monitor your program.
  • Regularly visit the waste management storage area in your complex.  Ensure the area is clean and tidy.
  • Check for contamination and identify common items that are not accepted under Waste Bylaw 18-16.
  • Provide education about these common mistakes, this can be done through signage.
  • Ensure signage is in good condition.  (Replace when/if it is faded or has deteriorated).
  • Request feedback from your collector.  Ask about contamination issues, how much is being diverted, whether bins have been damaged or reasons if they have missed a collection.
  • Manage the program between collections.  The frequency for collection may need to change to reflect the volume produced.  Diverting recycling and organics from the garbage will result in less garbage.  This may allow you to reduce the frequency of garbage collection or reduce the size of the container.  Ask your private hauler for guidance or support.
  • Share the results with your residents.  Providing statistics encourages residents and provides feedback that their efforts are working.
  • If you are not able to be on site to monitor your program, consider asking a volunteer, who is passionate about waste management and lives in the complex, to be your waste ambassador.
Step Six - Fill out the waste plan.

The Town of Okotoks is requesting that all multi-family residential properties provide a Waste Plan to the Manager of Waste Services yearly or as major changes happen on your property.  These plans are due July 1 of each year. 

Multi-Family Waste Plan

Step Seven - Celebrate your success!

It is equally important, not just to provide feedback to your residents, but also to listen to any feedback they may have.  Provide occasional reminders to your residents to keep them engaged.  Acknowledge their efforts and provide positive feedback on a regular basis.  Many multi-family residential properties have experienced cost savings by implementing waste diversion programs; perhaps you could use some of these savings to host a small celebration of your success.

Diverting Recycling & Organics

All multi-family residential properties must provide at minimum the following items to be recycled:

Paper and cardboard

  • Corrugated cardboard (cardboard boxes, pizza boxes)
  • boxboard (tissue boxes, paper towel tubes and toilet paper tubes)
  • catalogues
  • paperback books
  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • flyers
  • mixed and white paper
  • envelopes/window envelopes,
  •  greeting cards,
  • brochures,
  • non-foil gift wrap,
  • paper bags
  •  telephone books
  • Shredded paper – shredded paper to be in a clear plastic bag and tied closed
  • Clean plastic containers with the recycling symbol numbered 1 – 7 on the bottom of the container
  • Plastic bags and bubble wrap – Bundle your plastic bags in a clear plastic bag and tie closed
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal food cans, metal lids, clean aluminum foil, foil plates and containers
  • Refundable beverage containers



All multi-family residential properties must provide at minimum to be composted: All food – cooked or raw – vegetables, fruits, meats, bones, fish, shellfish, nuts, egg shells, all dairy products, jams, sauces, cooking oil, fats, pastries, cakes, breads, nuts, seeds, candy.

  • Yard waste – grass clippings, tree clippings plants and weeds
  • Pet fur/hair
  • Animal bedding
  • Wooden popsicle sticks and toothpicks
  • Kitty litter and pet waste – please check with your service provide as some facilities require all pet waste to be in a Certified Compostable bag.
  • Food soiled paper – paper plates, coffee filters and tea bags and pizza boxes

Waste Bylaw 18-16 is written so that multi-family residential properties have flexibility in their options and choices on who and how they would like their materials collected.   A Private Hauler Directory is included to help get you started.

Multi Family Guide
Read the Multi-Family Guide - your source for program information.
Sun: Closed
Mon - Fri: 7:30 am - 4:00 pm
Sat: Closed
Closed weekends and stat holidays.
  • Garbage, Recycling and Organics Inquiries: 403-938-8054 Contact Online