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What's the Problem?
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 and
recycling subsidize the cost of those
who do not.

What's the solution?
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT), a system under which residents are asked to pay for waste collection directly - based on what the actually generate.

How 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.

What 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.

What's 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/HOPKINTON: 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, email townclerk@new-shoreham.com.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN/NARRAGANSETT: 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 pbergeron@northkingstown.org.

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.

DEM logoSponsored 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 Protection Agency

What's the Problem?

What's the solution?

How does it work?

What are the benefits?

What's happening in Rhode Island

What's DEM's role?

Where can I get more information about PAYT?