Just about every community has some sort of organized recycling program, and many municipalities are implementing other programs to offset fees for waste removal, including so-called “pay as you throw” programs. Many homeowners have muddled through with makeshift systems for separation, sorting and bagging trash, recyclables, and returnables. However, building a new home provides an opportunity to not only organize your recycling efforts but to use space efficiently.

Revisiting the Trash Compacter
As one wit put it, “A trash compactor is an amazing device that turns twenty pounds of garbage into twenty pounds of garbage,”  However, for home owners located in towns with “throw as you go” programs, where waste destined for the dump must be disposed of using special bags which support and subsidize the trash pick up costs, a less bulky twenty pounds of garbage may cut the bag costs significantly. KitchenAid’s built-in compactor comes in stainless or panel ready options and reduces trash by up to 80 percent.

Recycling organized
If you’re relocating to a new area, contact you town hall or municipality to learn what items are included in your local recycling program. Some towns use single-stream recycling, where all recyclables, including metal, newspaper, aluminum, glass and plastics are collected in a single container, then sorted elsewhere. Other municipalities require that glass, cardboard, newspapers, cans, plastics and other recycled items be separated and placed in individual containers. Some states offer deposit refunds for certain beverage containers such as soda and beer cans, glass wine bottles and other items.

Make Recycling Easy!
Once you’ve determined the categories of recycling in effect in your new neighborhood, you can begin to plan for your recycling—making it as easy and sanitary as possible.

The advantage that the new homeowner has in setting up a recycling area is the ability to include it in the design of the kitchen or mudroom. If you have enough under-counter space, consider a pull-out rack to hold single-stream recyclables and ordinary trash bins. If you’re selecting semi-custom cabinets in the kitchen, the rotating corner unit can offer a neat and tucked away solution to large amounts of recyclables. For cabinet slide-out units or corner cabinet recycling centers, check out Knape and Vogt for their ingenious designs.

If your recycling takes on a large volume of materials each week, you may want to move the recycling area into a pantry, breezeway or mudroom. Mount peg boards on the walls, and install hooks for easy hanging of returnable collection bags or wall-mount receptacles.

Many companies make plastic containers of various designs specifically for recycling. Many styles are stackable, which frees up floor space in tight pantries. Others incorporate a tight-fitting lid with flip-open access. Take a look around your local home center or office supply store to see what types of container might work best for you.

Don’t forget hazardous materials: batteries, compact fluorescent bulbs, chemicals, aerosol containers, and paint supplies need their own collection bin to keep them separate until the next hazmat collection date.

Make sure your containers are clearly marked: cans, bottles, papers, and hazardous materials, can be identified with stick-on lettering or permanent markers.

If you’re a gardener and have a compost area, pick up a small under-sink or countertop compost collection bin to transport organic waste—trimmings, coffee grounds, and other scraps to your larger compost pile outside.