The cost to dispose of household garbage
is mostly unknown and leaves people
with the illusion that it is a free service.
The result: there is no incentive to
recycle or to reduce waste and the
State's Central Landfill continues
to fill at an alarming rate. Further,
people who are conscientious
about reducing waste
recycling subsidize the cost of those
who do not.
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT), a system under which residents are
asked to pay for waste collection directly - based on what the actually generate.
does it work?
To understand how pay as you throw works, let's look at how
we buy other products. We pay for apples by the pound, gasoline by the gallon,
electricity by the kilowatt hour, etc... PAYT operates the same way. You pay
for the amount of garbage you throw away. Although the concept may seem relatively
new, there are now more than 4,000 communities in the United States using
PAYT programs, including seven in Rhode Island. While there are many variations
of PAYT, the most popular are on a per container basis where households are
charged for each bag or can of waste they generate. Some communities bill
resident's based on the weight of their trash.
are the benefits?
Pay As You Throw programs encourage the three E's: Equity,
Environment and Economy.
Equity Since garbage is paid for by the unit instead of unlimited
service, people who generate less waste will no longer subsidize the cost
of those who generate larger amounts of waste.
Environment Pay-As-You-Throw provides an incentive to reduce
waste and increase recycling. On average, communities that implement pay-as-you-throw
programs, report a 15-28% reduction in the amount of waste disposed. In addition,
recycling rates often increase dramatically sometimes reaching double or triple
what they had been previously.
Economy By reducing waste, communities often find their
overall municipal solid waste management costs decline as well.
Happening in Rhode Island?
Seven communities in Rhode Island currently have some type
of pay-as-you-throw system in place for solid waste management. These include:
Westerly started a pay-by-the-bag program in July 1994 contingent on approval
of the voters in a November 1994 referendum. The referendum passed by a
three-to-one margin. Residents are required to purchase special orange bags
for trash disposal. Two sizes of bags are available: a 15 gallon bag for
$.50 or a 33-gallon bag for $1.00. Town officials estimate that recycling
increased by 13 percent and that solid waste decreased by 11 percent during
the first six months of the program. Contact John Fusaro, 401-348-2539.
RICHMOND: In Richmond,
residents bring trash to the town's transfer station, which is operated
by a private contractor. Trash is weighed at the transfer station and residents
are charged $3.00 for the first 50 lbs. and $2.00 for each additional 50
lbs. thereafter. Recyclables are accepted free of charge. In 1993, the Richmond
recycling program, although voluntary, diverted 21.5 percent of solid waste
from landfills. Contact: Bob Kenyon, 401-539-8474.
NEW SHOREHAM: Residents
bring trash to the to the Town's transfer station, which is operated by
a private contractor. Solid waste is weighed and residents and business
are charged $140.00/ton or $0.07/pound. There is no charge for recyclable
metals, glass, paper, and plastics. Items such as tires, automobiles, and
mattresses are also charged separate fees. Contact: David Holt, 401-466-3200,
Residents have the option of contracting with a private hauler or taking
their weekly household refuse, bulky waste, yard waste and recyclables to
the Rose Hill Recycling Transfer Station. To encourage recycling at the
transfer station, the Towns operate a "bag and tag" program. Residents purchase
an adhesive "tag" to affix to a bag (33 gallon maximum) they supply. Tags
are $1.00 each and sold in lots of 10. Bulky waste is disposed of at a rate
of $0.05 per lbs. bulky yard waste is at the rate of $0.35 per lbs. Yard
waste bags are also available at $0.75 each. South Kingstown and Narragansett
maintain a 42% diversion rate of recyclables which are accepted at no charge
and include: newspaper, glass, steel, aluminum, #1 and #2 plastics, paper
board, OCC, junk mail, magazines, food scraps, textiles, and used motor
oil and filters. There is also a very popular "book exchange" where residents
may drop off books or help themselves to books of interest. Contact Jon
Schock, 401-789-9331 x235.
NORTH KINGSTOWN: On
July 1, 1999 the town of North Kingstown implemented a new system for disposal.
They will issue tags for solid waste at the rate of $1.00 for a 34 gal size
container or a 35 lbs. bag. There is a fee small fee for metals, wood waste,
demolition debris, bulky items and appliances. Household recyclables are
collected at curbside. Contact Phil Bergeron 401-294-3331 x210 or email
What's DEM's role?
In 1997, the Rhode Island Department
of Environmental Management (DEM), Office of Strategic Planning and Policy
(OSPP), Ocean State Cleanup and Recycling (OSCAR) Program received a United
States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) grant to encourage adoption
of Pay As You Throw programs in RI's thirty nine communities. The grant also
provides funding to promote PAYT to the general public as an environmentally
and economically sustainable solid waste management tool. The Department offers
support and technical assistance to communities in the form of informational
workshops and consensus building community meetings for PAYT. DEM also maintains
a wealth of information that includes statistics, articles of interest, case
studies, and guidebooks.
Where can I get more
information about PAYT?
For more, information please contact the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation at 401-942-1430.
The USEPA has information available on
Pay-As-You-Throw including success stories from around the nation as well
as various publications on this subject. Visit them at: www.epa.gov/payt.
by Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management,
in cooperation with the United States Environmental Protection Agency
Project funding provided through a grant from the United States Environmental