Here’s further proof that cities are getting serious about recycling: In places like Cleveland and Philadelphia, residents who don’t recycle may be fined if trash collectors discover aluminum cans and other recyclable materials in their trash. It’s a controversial new trend that encourages everyone to take recycling to heart or face a stiff penalty.
Cleveland has spent $2.5 million to introduce recycling carts with an embedded chip that monitors how often the cart is taken to the curb. If you fail to recycle for an extended period of time, trash collectors may inspect your trash for recyclables. If they determine that more than 10 percent of your trash should have been recycled, you face a $100 fine.
Philadelphia has a similar program, minus the high-tech monitoring. The city has a team of 50 SWEEP officers that randomly inspect trash containers when no recycling bins have been placed out for pickup. If the officer finds a considerable amount of recyclables mixed in with the trash, residents receive a $50 citation. Philadelphia collected nearly $1 million in recycling fines in 2009.
Strong recycling programs are important to protecting the environment and helping reduce emissions. The idea of fining people who don’t recycle has come under criticism from some residents, but cities have a strong financial incentive to promote recycling. Cleveland, for example, pays $30 a ton to dispose of garbage but collects $26 a ton by selling recyclable material.