Getting Started

1. Set Up Your Service

All commercial businesses in Athens are required to recycle as stated by Ordinance Sec. 5-2-14 (i). 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. 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

For additional assistance, visit


2. Educate Your Staff

  • Recyclable Items Flyer front Opens in new windowCustomers/Tenants Recycling education should be included in new employee training and tenant move-ins. 
  • 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. 
  • Waste reduction and recycling programs show customers that your business cares about the community and environment. So, share your recycling efforts, goals and results with your staff, customers/tenants. 
  • Make sustainability part of your brand recognition and generate buzz around the great work your business is doing by sharing in your communications and marketing. 
  • Send out or post regular reminders and set up a structure to assure accountability. 
  • Ensure contractors, or outside crews, are aware of your recycling program. Reduce More Waste

3. Set Up Locations

Recycling stationA 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. 

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 

4. Submit your Commercial Recycling Plan

Every business 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.

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.