44% of the City of Melbourne’s residents live in apartments in a four or more storey block. These high rise apartment residents usually don’t have easy access to recycling facilities, with many apartment buildings designed and built with only a single garbage chute. The relative inconvenience of recycling compared with disposal of material to landfill was identified as a disincentive for residents to recycle. Likewise, the need to carry materials to this central area leads to contamination caused by well-meaning residents who diligently sort their recyclables and place them into the recycling bins wrapped in a plastic bag.
The City of Melbourne set about increasing the convenience of and so participation in recycling with a trial program launched in June 2010 specifically tailored at high rise apartment residences. Under the program, residents were able to collect a free MURFE recycling bucket to use to separate their recycling and carry it to the central recycling area.
The MURFE was customised for the program with labelling to clearly indicate that could and could not be recycled. These key messages were reinforced through fridge magnets and information signs were installed above the recycling bins to reinforce the message of what could and could not be recycled.
The success of the trial was monitored with a series of visual assessments of contamination within the recycling bins as well as surveys with the building managers and residents. In total 250 MURFE’s were distributed to residents as part of the trial and nearly 80% of survey respondents who had received a MURFE felt that it had made it easier for them to recycle in their building.