Fines for not recycling?

few years before I started my green journey, I moved to a city where I stayed with a friend for a while. In the previous town I lived in, we had no recycling to speak of. The first day in my temporary digs, I was preparing some food and threw a glass jar in the bin.

Well, the reaction from my friend was incredible. I was given a look that could have frozen hot magma in a second. I was then given a lecture about recycling and was told that by my irresponsible action, I risked my friend getting a fine. I was left feeling like I had strangled a dolphin.

I don’t think the “fine” bit was true at that time, but the point was made and I never did it again – recycling is now second nature.

However, there are now some places that do impose fines for not recycling household waste that can be recycled. The challenge has been policing it and prosecuting the offenders.

In Ohio, Cleveland City Council appear to have found the solution – “smart” bins. According to an article on, next year the city will start rolling out trash and recycling bins embedded with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips and bar codes.

Through some high-tech wizardry, waste management workers will be able to keep an eye on how often residents put out their recycling bins and if there’s a lengthy gap between empties, a trash supervisor will dig through the resident’s normal trash to see if any recyclables are in it. Folks found putting recyclables in with normal trash (10% or more) will be fined a hundred bucks.

This isn’t just about the environment – the article points out Cleveland City Councils forks out $30 a ton to dump garbage in landfills, but makes $26 a ton for recyclables.

What are your thoughts – is this a good idea?


Recycling by the numbers
How stuff is recycled
Upcycling and downcycling
Recycling energy savings
What is precycling?