Can waste companies charge an environmental fee for recycling?

Dear Consumer Ed:

Can waste companies charge an environmental fee for recycling? If so, are there any regulations as to what they can charge?

Consumer Ed says:

Yes, waste companies are able to charge an environmental fee for recycling services that they provide to ratepayers. Environmental fees are generally charged as part of the overall costs associated with the waste company’s services. Specifically, this fee is often charged to cover costs and expenses associated with managing recycling operations in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

Recycling opportunities and fees may not be the same in every community because the recycling industry is market-driven. There typically must be an economically viable and logistically reasonable end-use for the recyclable material in order for it to be collected by a local government, private firm, or civic organization. City and county governments are normally in charge of soliciting proposals from service providers and then choose a particular provider that will deliver cost-effective waste disposal and recycling services to its community. There are no statewide regulations that dictate exactly how much can be charged as an environmental fee, but your respective local government may have passed an ordinance that defines the amount in fees that a service provider may charge for environmental or recycling purposes in their respective community.

For more information, you can contact:

  • Georgia Department of Community Affairs at (404) 679-4940 or
  • Georgia Recycling Coalition at (404) 634-3095 or
  • Earth 911, which is a national non-profit organization that provides a recycling directory through its interactive website and telephone hotline service. By dialing 1-800-CLEANUP, or going to, you will find local environmental information indexed by ZIP code. The service posts all public access recycling drop-off sites, along with information on local curbside collection programs, household hazardous waste programs, as well as who to contact for more information in your local area.

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