Getting Started

New Truck1. Set Up Your Recycling Service

  • All commercial businesses in Athens are required to recycle as stated by Ordinance Sec. 5-2-14 (i).
  • Ensure that you have recycling service with your waste hauler. If not, contact your trash hauler to add recycling service.
  • Businesses have the option to use any private hauler permitted to collect waste in Athens, GA. unless your business is in the downtown district. Downtown businesses must use Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste services. 
  • 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 can assist with estimating the amount of collection service needed by individual organizations.You also have the option of roll carts or dumpsters, depending on the needs of your business. Please note dumpster and roll cart enclosure requirements as detailed in Ordinance Sec. 5-2-16.

List of Private Haulers in Athens, GA

View Athens-Clarke County collection rates

2. Educate Your Customers/ Staff

  • Educate your customers, staff and/or tenants on what can be recycled. ACC Recycling Division staff can provide educational material such as posters and stickers as well as staff training. Check out our Resources page for educational materials.
  • Recycling education should be included in new employee training and new tenant move-ins. Note: Owners of multi-family properties should also distribute recycling education to all existing tenants at least annually.
  • Explain where recycling locations are, what they can recycle, how to prepare recycling (clean and empty) and what not to put in the recycling, such as plastic bags, Styrofoam, or food and to break down boxes. 
  • Make sure your janitorial or maintenance crew knows what to do with the trash and the recycling and have them keep an eye on the recycling for any contamination. 
  • Trash should have the path of least resistance and recycling should be a bit harder to access. Keep recycling dumpster doors closed, trash open and never let trash overflow– increase service if necessary.

Recyclable Items Flyer front

For additional assistance, visit Resources

3. Set Up Locations

Recycling station

A clearly set up, easy-to-use collection system will help you capture a high percentage of your recyclables and keep the trash out.

  • Place trash and recycling bins/dumpsters next to one another. Recycling bins should never be placed alone without a trash bin. 
  • Choose bins that are durable and similar in look, shape, and size and keep the same color coordination throughout your property. It is recommended to have a lid with a smaller opening on your recycling bins. 
  • Clearly label each bin as Trash/Landfill or Recycling. Color code the bins and/or labels- green or blue for recycling and black or gray for trash. 
  • Place the Recyclable Items flyer or poster above or on your recycling containers to help customers/tenants, visitors and staff know what should and should not be recycled. 
  • Keep the recycling loose, no bags. If you have to bag your recycling due to collection methods you MUST use a clear bag. If possible, please empty bags into the recycling dumpster. 
  • Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division offers used bins, signage, stickers, reusable recycling tote bags and professional advice from our staff at no cost to help you start or improve your recycling program. To request bins, flyers or stickers please complete this form

Recycling Locations

The following are the required locations by business type: 

  • Multi-family Property- leasing office, mailbox, pool, clubhouse, gym, laundry room, dumpster/compactor 
  • Office- lobby, employee offices, break room 
  • Retail, Hair/Nail Salon, Grocery- office, entrance/register, break room, stockroom 
  • Restaurant- office, kitchen, bar, break room, dine-in area (only if recyclables will be clean and no food) 
  • Bar- office, under bar, customer floor 
  • Hotel- lobby, check-in desk, office, kitchen, pool, gym, dining room, either offer in-room recycling or a bin per floor near vending machines 
  • Gas Station- entrance, pumps, stockroom, break room 
  • Church- entrance, worship center, fellowship hall, kitchen, break room, classrooms, offices 
  • Gym- floor, locker room, break room 
  • Industrial- entrance/lobby, work stations, break room, kitchen, offices, conference rooms

If your business does not is not detailed above, please contact the Commercial Recycling Specialist for more details on the requirements for your business.

4. Submit your Commercial Recycling Plan

Every business/organization in Athens-Clarke County must recycle and have an approved recycling plan on file with ACC Solid Waste Department, Recycling Division. You can complete your form here. If you prefer to download and print the form, click here.

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.

5. Verify compliance 

Once your Commercial Recycling Plan is received, the next step is verification.

There are three options for completing your verification:

  1. Submit photos via an online form (upload photos of the interior and exterior of your trash and recycling bins)
  2. Select an open visit where I can stop by any time your business is open and inspect.
  3. Schedule your recycling inspection (typically a 20-30 minute tour of your facility in-person or virtually)

Verification includes:

  • Demonstrating where you collect your recycling throughout your property
  • Sharing your recycling education methods
  • Sharing where your recycling is deposited for collection (i.e. dumpster or roll carts)

This is a great opportunity to learn more about your waste stream and see if there is opportunity to recycle better or more.

Are you ready to do more?

Athens-Clarke County offers several opportunities to divert your waste from the landfill, close the loop and provide feedstock for industry. 

Mixed Recycling- Mixed recycling includes: cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, paper and glass bottles and jars. 

Center for Hard to Recycle Materials- CHaRM is a one stop drop for “hard to recycle” items such as Styrofoam, plastic bags, batteries and electronics. 

Teacher Reuse Store- The Teacher Reuse Store offers donations of unwanted items to local educations for FREE!

Composting- Meat, bones, dairy, food scraps, vegetables, fruit, napkins, coffee and BPI certified flatware can all be composted

Thrift Stores- Thrift stores accept donations of gently used clothing, furniture, appliances, housewares, building materials and more. 


Identify your waste

Yes, this means looking in your trash. You have to know what you are throwing away in order to change it. Your business is likely throwing away something that could be reused, recycled, composted or even eliminated from the start. Once you know what goes where, you can access what waste materials your business is producing and make an educated decision as to where it should end up. 

Use the Waste Sort Chart as your guide for this step. 

Tips to reduce your waste

  • Purchase products with recycled content. By purchasing products containing recycled content, you are completing the loop that began with, for example, tossing a water bottle in your recycling bin. Remember this with your marketing too and requested recycled-content paper. 
  • Print double-sided. 
  • Identify the sources of excess waste. Not only will source reduction help eliminate the need to recycle or divert waste before it even begins, but it will eliminate error and get your team on track to more thoughtful actions that contribute to your overall business practices. 
  • Consider having your business’s own reusable utensils, plates and cups that staff can use instead of using disposable ones. 
  • offers special programs for additional hard-to-recycle items such as make-up, toys, guitar strings, candy wrappers, and more. They will even provide bins for collection. 
  • Consider having a conversation with your suppliers or vendors about the way they package their shipments. Maybe they could cut out or cut down on their plastic film wrapping around pallets, or replace packaging peanuts with recyclable paper. Some supplies will back-haul their shipping, check to see if yours does. 
  • Develop a Sustainable Purchasing Protocol as a requirement for doing business. At a minimum, you can use this protocol to assess new suppliers and materials going forward. 
  • Share with your customers, business partners, and community that your efforts have been put in motion. This can help maintain the morale to remain responsible and empowered by your environmentally-conscious actions while serving as a tool to educate others on improving their own business practices. 
  • Consider composting. Even just kitchen prep scraps can divert a lot of very heavy material. 
  • Retail and restaurants, can you ditch plastic bags? Or have your staff ask if they would like a bag instead of automatically bagging it. 
  • Restaurants, serve beverages by fountain or draft in recyclable cups or reusable glasses.
  • Restaurants can also ask to go orders if they need sauce, utensils, napkins instead of automatically bagging it. Not everyone needs them especially if they care going home. This can save you money, too.