Published on December 8th, 2008 | by Zachary Shahan


$500 Fine for Not Recycling

[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Incase Designs]

The state of Georgia has asked county and city governments to reduce their solid waste by 25%. Most counties offer curbside recycling programs, and there are facilities throughout the state for recycling drop off. Gwinnett County, though, is taking things a step further with their “Greener Tomorrow” program. A new ordinance passed last week and taking full effect next July, includes fines of up to $500 for recyclables in the trash or for trash mixed in with recyclables.

Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful is administering the program. They have compiled a list of items of items for compulsory recycling, including paper bags, aluminum food containers, and discarded mail. The plan is to more than double the amount of waste that the county recycles from around 10% now to 23%.

As with any new ordinance, some residents are skeptical. According to the program’s website, their “goal is to reduce waste, not to go through people’s garbage.” They say that fines will be reserved for “excessive abuses.”

Is this a necessary step to get folks recycling or a little over the top? What do you think?

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Sounds like a step in the right direction. Some folks just arn’t going to get it unless there’s negative reinforcement for failing to comply.


  • In theory, I think it’s a good idea, but part of me wishes there were a positive reinforcement situation rather than a negative one. Not sure how that would work, though…I’d just hate for recycling to become something stigmatized through programs like this, you know?

  • LD

    This should be sent to every city and county in Georgia, since the majority of other cities in the U.S. are making recycling Mandatory.

    Everyone should recycle Something every week. Let’s get all our fast food restaurants to have patrons recyle in their establishments too.

  • Joanne

    I think they say they won’t go through all the trash but they will Have to. Since Stated have no money they will Need to send out as many citations they can. And will this make Everybody recycle? No! I know I don’t recycle everything but thankfully I am not in a police state … yet and I would just have to go to jail because I wouldn’t be able to pay 500.00 so I guess they would have to take out a murderer to make room for me. Or better still make a non recyclers prisons.

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