When pitching the benefits of recycling, most proponents give broad, altruistic statements about saving the environment's limited resources.
But public works officials say there are practical effects that recycling can have on city and county governments — and also their taxpayers.
There are two key ways that public works officials list for ways recycling can save taxpayers money.
For one, an item that is recycled instead of thrown in the trash means less space used in a landfill, said Cary Lawler, Hall County's public works director.
The quicker landfill space is used up, the more likely it is that government officials will have to find another place to dump trash.
"Nobody wants a landfill in their backyard," said Dan Owen, director of the Gainesville solid waste division.
For a city like Gainesville, which doesn't keep a landfill of its own, officials have to buy space to dump waste. More unrecycled waste means more money spent to dump in a landfill.
"The more people recycle, maybe we could hold off more fees in the future," Owen said. "That's our goal is to decrease the stream going to the landfill."
Owen qualified that by saying he didn't anticipate fee increases in the near future.
Recyclable goods also provide a small revenue source for governments to offset costs by selling collected recyclables to processing companies.
Those companies then sell the materials back to manufacturers, which may produce anything from car parts to carpet, said Rick Foote, the county's natural resources coordinator.
For the 2011 fiscal year, Hall County reported that recycling offset landfill use by nearly $110,000 and raised about $330,000.