A resident of Wiedikon was fined 270 francs by the city authorities after failing to tie a string around the cardboard she left out for collection, the Blick newspaper reported.
She was threatened with two days in jail if she failed to pay within a month.
The angry resident told SRF radio's Espresso consumer programme she had received a fine for “failure to observe the collection time for recyclable materials” seven months after her recycling ‘offence'.
Although she had disposed of her old cardboard neatly, placing smaller items inside a larger box before leaving it outside her house for collection, she had failed to tie it up.
When she returned home in the evening, the cardboard was still there. She assumed the fine resulted from the fact that the bundle was left sitting on the street.
Zurich's waste and recycling authority, ERZ, defended the fine in comments to the radio programme.
“It says on all our information sheets and on the ERZ website and app that cardboard must be folded and secured with a string,” a spokeswoman said.
Compared with other big cities in German-speaking Switzerland, Zurich takes a tough line on those violating recycling regulations, Blick said.
It said that in most other cities the authorities would put stickers on incorrectly bundled cardboard that they refused to collect.
In Schaffhausen and St Gallen the fine for incorrectly placed recycling is 100 francs.