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Introducing food waste segregation to apartment complexes can be successfully achieved through a combination of clear communications, an engaged management company and the provision of inexpensive kitchen caddies to residents, according to a study recently published by the Regional Waste Offices.

The study, which took place in an apartment complex in the Santry area of Dublin, Temple Gardens and Temple Lawns, from April to September of 2019, examined the best ways to introduce segregated food waste collection to apartment complexes. In particular, the study looked at the measures required to encourage maximum participation by residents.

The number of households living in apartments in Ireland has grown significantly in the past decade and in the Dublin area over 35% of households currently live in apartments. Although households are legally obliged to segregate food waste, the vast majority of apartment complexes in Ireland do not have the facilities to do so, such as a brown bin collection or a system for the residents to begin segregating their food waste. In addition, for residents and management companies who wish to put a system in place, the process can seem complex. In countries that do have such collections, factors such as restricted kitchen space, inadequate monitoring of communal bin areas, unclear signage and a high turnover of residents all present particular problems for food segregation.

Hugh Coughlan, co-ordinator of ACR+ member the Eastern Midlands Waste Region (EMWR) said, “In the Dublin study we set out to introduce a collection for food waste while simultaneously tackling issues that might arise. We also carried out surveys and focus groups of the residents to learn as much as possible about how they were reacting to the new system, what was working for them and what needed to be changed.”

“We found that the two most important factors in encouraging residents to begin segregating their food waste was the provision of the kitchen caddy, an inexpensive item, and signage clearly stating what could be placed in the brown bin. Other factors that facilitated the change included good housekeeping in the communal bin areas, a contact number or email where residents could ask for information and having a management company that is engaged and interested in the process.”

The study recommends the instigation of a national programme to introduce brown bin collections to all apartment complexes. Specific recommendations for local authorities include raising awareness about regulations concerning the segregation and collection of food waste, increased enforcement of the regulations and the use of planning conditions to ensure adequate storage space both in apartment kitchens and communal bin areas.

The report is available here.

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