What can happen to me if I don't recycle? Help the Planet... and avoid a fine!

Not recycling or do it wrong can cost you a fine. We give you the keys to not losing money

“Recycling is worthless, they mix it all up later anyway”. “I don’t have enough room to store so many bins in my kitchen”. “I already pay the garbage tax, can’t the authorities take care of it?” You may have heard some of these phrases from a friend, a relative or a neighbour sometime. Maybe you yourself said so –or thought so- at some point trying to convince yourself that recycling is just a waste of time with no real benefit.

If that’s your case, this article is interesting for you.

Beyond providing the multiple environmental reasons that encourage recycling, we are goint to show you what can happen to your current account if you decide not to do it and you get caught, because not recycling can have economic consequences.

The correct waste separation is the key for recycling


Just as some consumer organizations such as OCU and FACUA have warned, administrations are not clear about how the recycling process shoud be done and what happens if we don’t do it. Mainly, in Spain it is mandatory for the administrations to provide its citizens the facilities to recycle, though the users generally do not have the obligation to use this service. However, it is not like that everywhere. The latest controversy came a few months ago, in 2014, when the local government of Madrid announced that not recycling or wrong recycling could mean a 250 euros fine. And how could they know who is recycling incorrectly? That’s easy, rummaging the garbage looking for leads. Is this legal or is it an invasion of privacy? It has always been a felony, but now, in Madrid, it is legal. A 400 searchers squad has been formed and they are qualified to search in the bags and containers on the street for any lead that identifies the evil recycler: a bank statement, the electricty bill, a phone number or an address…

This controversy in the Spanish capital is the most recent, but not the only one. In Barcelona, something similar happened in 2009 when the City of Sant Sadurní fined a hundred residents 90 euros after finding in their garbage evidence of wrong recycling.


What happens in the North American country? Something very similar to Spain. The states regulate the recycling and try to implement social consciousness on waste sorting. Nevertheless, though progress has been made in the legal field, there are no economic sanctions by now because of an incorrect waste separation for the mexican citizens, as it’s only been four years since in the DF, for instance, different containers for each kind of rubbish were enabled.


In Chile, the Chamber of Deputies approved the Recycling Bill, that doesn’t include sanctions for the citizens, but instead hands over the responsibility to the producer, who must “undertake the financing and managing of the product’s waste that they introduce in the national market”, and may be fined “in case of breach of the recollection goals”.


Buenos Aires wants to take the lead in the recycling issue in Argentina. The local government has stablished that garbage separation is mandatory, but it is a two-part program. The first half consists in an awareness campaign in which they’ll show the citizens how to recycle correctly. In the second half, there will be fines for those who keep recycling wrongly –or don’t recycle at all- that can oscillate from 320 to 9.000 dollars (from 300 to 8.500 euros).

A habit that can save your money


Bogota doesn’t want to be left behind in the race for saving the Planet, so the local government has developed a complete strategic plan in order to keep their streets clean. This program includes sanctions for those who do not recycle as they should. Not separating trash can cost to each Bogotan up to 106.0222 pesos (40 euros). And watch out, because as many as 14.000 agents will be patrolling. At least, the first time will only mean a warning. If they relapse, they will be fined.


And last, there is the highlighit case of United States. In a big technological display, some northamerican cities, including Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Charlotte, they are testing a radio frequency identification chip (RFID) implanted in the recycle bins, so that a signal is sent to the garbage collection services depending on the amount and weight of rubbish that they store. Besides, a pilot experiencie is taking place in Cleveland (Ohio) and Laurel (Maryland): this mini computer will fine with the corresponding sanction to the user who is not using the bin correctly, on a rank of fines that vary from 25 to 100 dollars (from 23 to 94 euros).

Recycling improves the state of the Planet, and our pocket’s! We’d better get used to it as soon as possible because before long your garbage can could inform aganist you.

So what about you? Have you ever had any problem when trying to recycle in your city?, Do you think we recycle because of environmental conciousness or just economic reasons? Tell us your experience and join our poll.

Sources: OCUOCU ConsumoFACUALa VanguardiaEl EconomistaEl MundoEl Confidencial, VLex MéxicoNoticieros TelevisaGobierno de ChileClarínADN Colombia, Do your part everyday green living, Earth 911