Commercial Recycling

Every business in Athens-Clarke County must have an approved recycling plan on file with ACC Solid Waste Department, Recycling Division. An ordinance approved by Mayor and Commission in November 2012 is the next step in achieving ACC's goal of reducing by 60% the amount of waste entering our landfill, by 2018 (from 2010 disposal levels).

What is Required by Ordinance Sec. 5-2-14 (i) There are three core requirements for businesses licensed in ACC:

  1. All commercial customers within ACC shall provide recycling containers to collect all items listed on the Targeted Materials List that are generated by the commercial customer. 
  2. All commercial customers within ACC shall provide recycling information and guidelines to their employees and/or tenants; ACC Solid Waste Recycling Division information can be used. Note: Owners of multi-family properties shall distribute to new tenants at the beginning of the lease and to all existing tenants at least annually, general recycling program information and current recycling program guidelines as updated and provided by the ACC Solid Waste Department.
  3. Each commercial customer within ACC shall complete and have on file with ACC Solid Waste Recycling Division a Commercial Customer Recycling Plan. If your business is not a stand-alone structure, it may be appropriate to discuss this requirement with the property owner/manager. Generally, the entity paying for waste collection services should be involved in any discussion of adding recycling collection services. However, each business must complete and file a Recycling Plan. 

For businesses already recycling, little will be required beyond completing the Recycling Plan, and perhaps increasing education for employees and customers (ACC Recycling Division staff can assist with this). In many cases adding recycling collection will add to the monthly waste collection bill, because it involves placing a separate outside container, and having a separate truck collect that material. However, depending on the hauler and the amount of material diverted from the waste stream for recycling, businesses may see only a modest increase, roughly break even, or even realize some cost savings.

Under existing ordinance, all waste haulers operating in ACC are required to offer collection of recyclable material, and while their rates vary, some haulers include recycling service in their regular collection rates. ACC Recycling Division staff can provide education material and assistance estimating the amount of collection service needed by individual organizations. These resources are funded by the waste minimization fee.  
Take these steps to gain compliance with the ordinance:

  1. Review Commercial Recycling Plan Form 
  2. Contact existing recycling service provider to verify service level, including size and number of collection containers
  3. Review or establish education program
  4. Review or establish collection service
  5. Review or establish intermediate collection infrastructure (deskside collection bins, bins in meeting rooms, lobbies, etc.) 
  6. Launch education and collection program
  7. Review/reward

There are many good reasons to recycle; here are three you may not have considered: 

  1. Recyclable scrap from your business is a raw material for manufacturers. Georgia has strong markets for recyclable material; in fact CertainTeed Corporation in Athens and its 200 employees use more than 45,000 TONS of used glass annually. 
  2. Locally, recycling creates private- and public-sector jobs at our Materials Processing Facility. 
  3. ACC saves money by prolonging the life of its landfill. Recently expanded, this resource can serve the county residents for decades to come.

For questions and additional information, including on-site technical assistance, educational material and tours of the ACC Recycling Processing Facility, contact the ACC Commercial Recycling Specialist.