All multi-family buildings in Calgary are required to provide recycling services as of today.

The city's waste and recycling bylaw mandates building owners to offer on-site recycling of the materials accepted in single family blue cart recycling.

​The requirement applies to all condos, apartments or townhouses with five or more units.

"We should've done this years ago, because landfills are really, really expensive to operate, and the land is limited," said city councillor Ward Sutherland.

"It's projected right now that 88 per cent of our current landfill is recyclable material," he said. "Overall, this is a smart approach, and we'll save money, and it's also our social responsibility at the same time."

The bylaw carries a $250 penalty for noncompliance, but Sutherland said the city will be "relaxed on the fines" as it continues to educate people about the new regulations. 

Each building to select its own program

The city is leaving it up to landlords to decide whether to hire a private company or handle the recycling themselves.

Blaine Armstrong of PEL Recycling says many landlords seem to have left it to the last minute to get recycling programs set up.

"The phone is ringing off the hook. I just ordered 200 of those carts, and I'm going to have to order another 200 in two weeks," he said. 

Officials will conduct a survey at the end of the month to gauge the level of compliance, said city spokesperson Parnell Legg.

A survey in September found that recycling programs had already been started at about 40 per cent of condos and apartment buildings.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said most large buildings have been providing recycling service for a long time but some smaller ones are still trying to figure out how to do it.

The city's policy is flexible, Nenshi noted, and allows for a wide range of different systems, as long as the recyclables are collected somehow.

"There are many ways of doing it," the mayor said.

"I have a friend who lives in a small condo building and they just give one member of the community who lives there and happens to have a truck a bit of a discount on his condo fees and, once every two weeks, he takes the recycling in."