LAWRENCEVILLE - The Earth Day approval of a new trash plan for the county will mean significant increases in the number of materials recycled here, the director of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful said.

Connie Wiggins said the plan - which divides the county into eight collection zones and mandates trash pickup for all Gwinnett homes - will take 23 percent of Gwinnett's garbage out of the waste stream by allowing more recycling options.

"A lot of people can't buy hybrid cars or retrofit everything in their home," Wiggins said. "Recycling is something everybody can do."

Tuesday, the county's Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the changes that Wiggins said will reduce truck traffic and air pollution.

The plan, which allows companies to bid on particular districts, will mean greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to taking 37,000 cars off the road, Wiggins said, and the energy savings from increased recycling are enough to power 15,000 houses for a year.

No one opposed the plan Tuesday, but in the past, some residents have decried the fact that they will no longer have the option to select their own trash provider. Wiggins said allowing companies to bid to provide the service will mean on average, prices could be lower than they are now.

The new trash plan will go into effect in the beginning of 2009, with bids coming in this fall. Wiggins said she has already had interest from 20 to 25 companies.

Under the old plan, anyone could ask for and receive permission to pick up garbage in Gwinnett. Wiggins said that led to a number of subdivisions seeing garbage trucks every day of the week. With the new plan, everyone in a particular district will have the same trash provider.

Wiggins said traffic studies are still being completed to determine the eight zones.