Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) Solid Waste Collection Programs: Overview
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) programs charge households for solid waste collection based on the amount of waste that they throw away. Those who throw away more pay more, and those who throw away less pay less. The goal is to create a financial incentive for residents to recycle, thus lessening the volume of material sent to landfills and incinerators.
There are 3 common pricing structures:
- Proportional Pricing means residents pay a set price per bag or unit of trash that they generate
- Variable Rate Pricing means that the price per unit changes as the amount of waste created by an individual changes
- Multi-tiered Pricing use a flat fee to create revenue stability, and then adds additional costs per unit of waste generated.
- Generally the flat fee would be used to cover the program's fixed costs, and the 2 tier fees to cover variable costs such as collection, transportation, and disposal.
PAYT programs provide the largest increase in recycling volume with minimal cost impacts to local governments and residents. It is a more equitable system for residents who can now pay only for the non-recyclable waste they generate without subsidizing neighbors who generate considerably more waste. PAYT rates also increase yard waste recycling tonnages, thus diverting compostable materials away from the waste stream.
The implementation of a PAYT program entails minimal operational changes and costs where established solid waste collection routes already exist. Some administrative processes are necessary to ensure billing and collection. Some communities forego billing by requiring the purchase of approved trash bags or trashcan decals. It is both critical and challenging to build public consensus, which will require good planning and public education efforts.
PAYT programs significantly reduce the volume of municipal solid waste directed to landfills and incinerators. This can in turn reduce a community’s landfill management costs. PAYT also increases citizen participation in recycling and composting activities. Lastly, a variable pricing model promotes equity in user payments by basing cost on actual volume of waste generated.
There are usually concerns that PAYT programs will lead to an increase in illegal dumping. However, most PAYT communities have found this not to be the case especially when PAYT is promoted alongside other legal methods of waste disposal, such as curbside recycling and yard trimmings composting.
- Environmental Management Department
- Solid Waste Management/Recycling Department
- Public Works Department
There are 3 general methods for determining PAYT user rates:
- Model Community Method uses data from successful programs in cities of similar size and characteristics
- Historical Data Analysis Method examines a community’s own historical waste generation and trash hauling volume and costs to estimate the PAYT revenue and expenses
- Full Cost Method is the most rigorous approach and attempts to identify and quantify all direct, indirect, and future expenses associated with PAYT management and calculates user rates accordingly
Waste disposal sites for solid waste from human activities.A mixture of decayed plants and other organic material that is used to enrich soil with nutrients.The collection, reprocessing, marketing, and use of materials that were diverted or recovered from the solid waste stream.