Let’s Talk Trash: How Waste Management Fits into Sustainability
Two trash containers and one recycling containers are filled with waste. There are bags of full black trash bags in front of the containers.

The increased attention on sustainability can overlook waste management (but it shouldn’t!). There’s not only much to improve, but also key technological advancements that can help everyone involved. As people stayed in their homes throughout the year with the pandemic, many became more aware of the amount and type of waste they produced. As they became more aware of waste management at home, that brought them to delve into how to innovate around waste in the commercial setting, like in multifamily housing.

What is the current state of trash?

In general, most people have good intentions and want to sort the material properly, but they don’t know how. This makes sense, as regulations vary by city, which makes compliance difficult. According to Jason Gates, CEO and Co-Founder of Compology, an AI-powered waste metering™  technology company, the best approach is to improve behavior through targeted education, as people want to do the right thing. When materials are not sorted properly or are contaminated, they cannot be recycled and are sent to the landfill instead.

To make recycling viable for the long-term, the streams of recyclables must be cleaner. In the cases that residents throw away contaminated materials, they have the right intentions, but not the right knowledge of recycling policies for where they live. Investment into coaching and education is necessary for execution.

Who are the stakeholders?

With multifamily trash management, there’s a symbiotic relationship between all stakeholders. With greater information into what is in the container, maintenance staff, haulers, processors, and regulars all benefit. To improve operations means to elevate everyone together.

What can smart trash management do? 

An example of a smart trash management solution is Compology, which retrofits cameras into commercial and industrial dumpsters to automatically determine the fullness and types of materials inside. The cameras can track location through GPS, tilt of container (to know when it’s dumped), and images inside of containers. This can serve three stakeholders:

  1. For multifamily property staff and owners, this can save on costs and decrease contamination of recyclables to divert more waste from landfills.
  2. For waste haulers, this minimizes the number of trash pickups for unfilled containers, and can improve efficiency of routes.
  3. For residents, this can provide almost real-time education so they can better understand what’s recyclable and what’s not.

Waste management is a crucial piece in multifamily sustainability, and everyone can benefit from greater education about it.

Listen to Mary Nitschke, VP of Sustainability at RealPage, and her full podcast episode here: “Let’s Talk Trash: Utilizing Technology to Modernize Trash Management.” To keep learning more about sustainability in multifamily housing, check out the Sustainability Series podcast.


STRATIS®, a RealPage Company, creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings and is the only platform of its kind built for the complexities of multifamily and student housing. STRATIS is installed worldwide across the U.S., in Japan, the UK, EU, and Latin America. STRATIS now serves hospitality, retail, and small to mid-size commercial, as well. STRATIS is an Inc. Magazine “Fastest Growing Company in America” and a Top Ten Entrepreneur Magazine “Best Company in America.” STRATIS was recently acquired by RealPage to enable STRATIS Smart Building, a more connected lifestyle, and unleash hidden yield through new revenue streams.

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