Should Not Recycling Correctly Become a Crime?

This via Everyday Trash.

Living in Sweden, one gets used to recycling. “To not recycle” is one of the things you just don’t_do, should you want to be able to blend in with your average crowd of people. We take it very seriously. A few years ago, municipal authorities brought a 77-year old woman to court for failing to recycle a frying pan in the correct manner, and last year a police candidate was fined for placing a cat litter box outside the plastic recycling container, instead of inside.

Most of the talk I hear about crime and recycling in the US has to do with scavenging in other people's trash. In New York City stealing recyclables is apparently big business, though the market for recyclables is not as good these days. Though I do remember a few years ago in NYC, when the city was really pushing for people to recycle, I heard of residents getting notes in their mailbox telling them they were recycling incorrectly. It's funny how Americans have pretty well grasped the "fine for littering" concept that funnels waste to its proper place--the landfill(though we wouldn't need so many Adopt-A-Highway crews if everyone followed the law)-- but the idea of keeping waste out of the landfill hasn't really registered in the civic conscience.

It could be argued that enacting a bunch of recycling laws would be impossible to enforce, putting too great a burden on already overtaxed local authorities. Then again, it sounds like the Swedish "Garbage Spies" from the above post act as an effective monitor of recycling practices, relying on the age-old nosy neighbor in us all. For some reason I think of a hilarious slapstick version of a totalitarian regime where Big Brother is right next store, people scurrying around to poke in each others' waste bins and triumphantly pull out the unwashed plastic bottle hidden in the trash.

A little research didn't turn up any articles about fines for improper recycling. Has your area tried to enforce proper recycling habits, and has there been any success?

Tags: Community, Crime, Europe, Policy

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