Starting next year, Portland will require landlords of large apartment buildings to offer convenient recycling to their tenants.

If they don’t, they could be subject to fines ranging from $50 to $150.

The ordinance was first presented last year, but landlords felt blindsided by the proposal, so the City Council council referred it back to committee.

“When it arrived at the council we realized we neglected to notify the landlord association of the impending change,” said City Councilor David Marshall, who chairs the Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee.

Marshall said the ordinance would allow landlords to maintain their existing waste hauling contracts in setting up their own recycling programs.

The ordinance would achieve a long-standing goal to expand recycling, which is currently limited to single family homes and small apartment buildings.

“This would extend it to the big apartment buildings,” Marshall said.

The ordinance received the support of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, according to Sarah Lakeman, the group’s sustainability and outreach coordinator.

Lakeman said recycling needs to be as convenient and easy as throwing things in the trash.

“Convenience trumps good intentions,” she said. “The city of Portland has the potential to be a model of sustainability not only for the state but the nation.”

The ordinance would require landlords, whose residential properties are not currently participating in the city’s waste management program, to implement a single-sort recycling program by Jan. 1, 2015.

About 10,000 housing units are not served by the city’s waste management program, and most of them do not have access to convenient recycling services, according to a memo from Troy Moon, the city’s environmental programs and open space manager.

Moon said in his memo that landlords would have the flexibility to create a program that works best for them, provided that recycling is as convenient as waste disposal and accepts the same types of materials as ecomaine, the nonprofit waste management company owned and operated by 21 municipalities in southern Maine.

Materials accepted by ecomaine include paper, paperboard, corrugated cardboard, plastics labeled 1 through 7, metal and glass.

Landlords may request an extension from the city if they cannot implement a recycling program by Jan. 1, 2015. If such a request is denied by the public works authority, the landlord will have 30 days to comply, or face a $50 fine for a first violation, plus attorney’s fees and costs. A second violation would result in a $100 fine and a third violation would be $150.

After meeting with landlords, the Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee voted unanimously last September to recommend the ordinance.

However, the committee rejected a recommendation from the city’s Multi-family Recycling Task Force to spend $40,000 on recycling bins for the 10,000 units. Instead, the city will invest between $3,500 and $5,000 in educational outreach.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:rbillings@pressherald.comTwitter: @randybillings