Lee County requires businesses and apartments to recycle in order meet the state’s recycling goals and the county’s goal for an integrated waste management system. The same policy also requires construction projects to recycle.
The policy applies only to properties in unincorporated Lee County and Bonita Springs. Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach have adopted a similar policy for their communities.
Businesses are required to recycle at least one material that makes up the largest portion of their waste stream by weight. Recyclable materials include paper, commingled containers, metal, wood, or other materials upon request. The recyclables must be picked up at least every two weeks or can be self-hauled to a recycling center.
Businesses can choose to work with a franchised hauler for services or to contract with another hauler. Franchised haulers offer recycling services for a fixed rate of $3.14/cubic yard for 96 gallon carts and $1.65/cubic yard for front load containers (2015 prices).
Multi-family property owners must provide recycling services for mixed paper and commingled containers. Recycling containers must be of adequate size, labeled with the material to be recycled and the recycling symbol, and indicate “no trash.”
As part of the county’s franchise agreement with a trash hauler, recycling is provided at no charge.
The county exempts businesses and apartment properties that demonstrate a financial hardship or space limitations. Businesses can also be exempted for a negligible amount of recyclables generated or if they subscribe to less than 70 gallons of trash service per week.
Businesses and apartments must have a formal and ongoing education program to inform employees and tenants about the recycling program. General recycling information and program guidelines should be distributed at least annually.
The county provides promotional materials, waste audits and on-site assistance upon request.
The county requires all businesses and apartments to submit a recycling plan that outlines which materials are collected for recycling, the name of the service provider (or if they are self-hauled), and how tenants/employees are notified about the program.
Trash auditors focused on education, rather than handing out fines, for the first 12-18 months following the ordinance.
The county can assess a monthly Advanced Disposal Fee on each business for not recycling. The fee is based on the Dept. of Revenue classification code and ranges from $100 to $500 per month. Apartment complexes can be fined $300 for each violation.
The business recycling policy doubled the amount of businesses recycling within the first year, with 80% of businesses were participating in a recycling program in the first year after the policy was adopted.