Adamec, Barbara. "Volume-Based Collection Fees: A Success Story." Resource Recycling. March, 1991.A review of the unit pricing program in Lisle, Illinois. The community's variable rate system has successfully increased recycling participation and reduced waste generation without significant problems. The author based her conclusions on a survey of 100 residents. She divided the respondents into 4 socio-economic groups and found that recycling participation was high across all groups, but that average set-out levels seemed to roughly increase with income. She also found that the average decrease in garbage from 1989 to 1990 was 53%, with 63% in the highest month (August) and 38% in the lowest (March 12, 1999). The average loss in total volume was 31%, with 46% in the highest month (August) and 8% in the lowest (March 12, 1999).
Albrecht, Oscar W. "An Evaluation of User Charges for Solid Waste Collection and Disposal." Resource, Recovery and Conservation. Vol. 2. 1976/1977.An early introduction to the concept of user fees for waste collection services. Variable rates, like effluent charges for air and water pollutants, provide a pricing incentive to reduce the amount of garbage generated. A University of California study estimated the price elasticity of demand for solid waste service at .44, and an analysis by the City of Chicago found that waste production had a per capita income elasticity of .53. The key question with unit pricing is: will it result in lower system costs and higher net benefits than other pricing systems. Other questions include: does unit pricing lead to other disposal activities, including burning and littering; and, does unit pricing affect household choices of service levels?
Alderden, Jim. "Volume-Based Rates, Dream or Nightmare?" Recycling Today. November, 1990.Unit pricing has been shown to encourage recycling and reduce the amount of municipal waste collected. Communities utilizing variable rates have reported an average reduction in garbage of 28%, with a range of 25% to 50%. It is also fairer to those that produce less waste. The downside of unit pricing is that it can encourage illegal dumping, especially at the beginning of the program, and lead to insufficient revenue for waste haulers. McHenry County, Illinois had problems with residential garbage being thrown into commercial dumpsters. Blazier Disposal in Harvard, Illinois set its rates based on an estimated pickup of 1.6 bags per household and it only got 1.2 bags, leaving it short of revenue. Issues to consider include the demographic mix of the community, whether it is urban or rural, the level of community environmental awareness, the recyclables that will be collected, whether adequate revenue will be generated, and whether the program will be voluntary or mandatory.
Andresen, Katya. "Communities Weigh Merits of Variable Rates: Residents' Fees for Garbage Disposals." World Wastes. November, 1992.
A review of volume-based programs, experiments with weight-based fees, and technological innovations in waste collection. The author spoke with several solid waste professionals and academics who have studied variable rates, including Lisa Skumatz and Glen Morris, She summarized different system options, and reported on the success of unit pricing in Santa Maria, California, Seattle, Washington, Perkasie, Pennsylvania, and Ilion, New York. Weight-based systems have been tested in Seattle, Farmington, Minnesota, and Durham, North Carolina. Charging by weight, while more difficult to implement, would provide a more accurate pricing signal to residents than volume-based fees. Illegal disposal is a significant concern with unit pricing, but the problem can be headed off by providing free drop-off days, locking commercial dumpsters, and strictly enforcing anti-dumping ordinances. Technological developments, like bar coding cans, make waste collection easier and cheaper. Concerns about accuracy can be addressed by high standards and hauler education.
Bender, Rodd; Briggs, Wyman; and De Witt, Diane. Toward Statewide Unit Pricing in Massachusetts; Influencing the Policy Cycle. Master's Degree Project. John F. Kennedy School of Government. January, 1994.The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs advocates unit pricing for municipal solid waste collection, but the decision to implement variable rates is up to localities. This study is an effort to judge community perceptions of unit pricing. The authors found that financial concerns, like the cost of waste disposal or the solvency of the collection service, a desire to encourage recycling and reduce waste, and grassroots lobbying efforts are all factors that can put unit pricing on a community's agenda. The study showed that the three biggest problems with unit pricing are: citizen perceptions that trash service should be free, failure to recognize the benefits of unit pricing, and fears about negative side effects, like illegal dumping and customer resistance. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and MassRecycle support unit pricing at the community level by, among other things, functioning as information clearinghouses and addressing community concerns in statewide seminars.
Blume, Daniel. Under hat Conditions Should Cities Adopt Volume-Based Pricing for Residential Solid Waste Collection? Master's Memo, Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, Duke University. May, 1991.A study of 14 communities with unit pricing programs. The study showed that these systems reduced the amount of garbage produced in those cities and increased recycling activity with few significant problems. The paper also explored different features of unit pricing and their effectiveness, and assessed factors that would determine whether unit pricing was appropriate for a given community.
Browning, Marilyn and Becker, Jeanne. Volume-Based Garbage Collection Fees: An Analysis of Ten Illinois Programs. A Report Prepared by Becker Associates, Inc. November, 1990.A summary of the structure and components of ten unit pricing programs in Illinois. A survey of solid waste officials in each of the ten communities found that the use of commercial dumpsters for residential waste was, on average, the most significant problem, receiving an average score of 2.9 on a scale of 1 to 5. The next most significant problem was insufficient revenue, followed by roadside dumping, uneven cash flow, and excessive garbage compaction. These problems can be addressed through better citizen education, locks on commercial dumpsters, the use of a minimum fee to cover fixed expenses, tougher enforcement of anti-littering provisions, and strict limits on the weight of a prescription container or bag.
Cargo, Douglas R. Solid Wastes: Factors Influencing Generation Rates. Research Paper No. 174. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Department of Geography.The author analyzed the 1968 National Survey of Community Solid Waste Practices to determine actual amounts of waste generation. The survey assessed household and commercial waste generation. Cargo found that the actual amounts of waste generation were larger than EPA estimates. After employing regression analysis to determine the effects of socio-economic variables on waste generation, he found that "greater solid waste generation rates occur in areas with large populations, with high densities, and occupied by lower-income groups". While generation rates increase with city density and city population size, they decrease with income.
Chua, Dale H.H. and Laplante, Benoit. Litter and Waste Management: Disposal Taxes, User Charges, and Penaltie. April, 1991.The authors expand upon Ian Dobbs' 1991 report, which recommended a combination of disposal fees on commercial products that would incorporate the potential cost of littering, and refunds for proper disposal of product waste. This report advocates the addition of penalties for littering to further encourage the proper disposal of waste. It is a completely theoretical piece which bases its findings on an economic model.
Cuthbert, Richard. "Variable Disposal Fee Impact." Biocycle. May, 1994.
Six case studies of unit pricing programs in Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Bothel and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The article described the structure of each program. The case studies were the result of a random 80 city survey conducted by the author. 40 of the survey cities were large (100,000+) and 40 had populations between 50,000 and 100,000. 68% had city-run waste service, and 32% contracted out to a private hauler. 35% financed their service from property taxes. The other 65% used fees, and 13 of those, or 16% of the survey, had variable rates. The general conclusions of the case studies were that unit pricing encourages waste reduction, that residents were accepting of the variable rate systems, and that variable rates supported other waste reduction activities, like recycling.
Dinan, Terry. "Solid Waste: Incentives That Could Lighten the Load." EPA Journal. My/June, 1992.Faced with increasing per capita waste generation and growing waste disposal costs, the U.S. should consider pricing systems that provide an incentive to reduce garbage. Unit pricing and disposal taxes are two such systems. Unit pricing enables households to save money by limiting the amount of garbage they put out for collection. A study of three variable rate programs in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, Ilion, New York, and Seattle, Washington found that the amount of waste landfilled or incinerated could significantly decrease. The author provided no specific figures.
Dobbs, Ian M. "Litter and Waste Management: Disposal Taxes Versus User Charges." Canadian Journal of Economics. February, 1991.An examination of user charges and disposal taxes as waste management techniques. The author recommends a strategy that employs a combination of each. A user fee would recover the marginal cost of waste disposal, while a disposal tax with a refund for proper disposal would eliminate the treat of illegal dumping. The article is completely theoretical and bases its conclusions on an economic model.
Efaw, Fritz and Lanen, William. Impact of User Charges on Management of Household Solid Waste. Report prepared by Mathtech, Inc. August, 1979.The authors conducted case studies of five communities, Burbank and Sacramento, California, Provo, Utah, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Tacoma, Washington, to determine the effect of particular pricing systems for solid waste collection on waste generation. The report contains in-depth descriptions of each community's systems, three of which, those in Sacramento, Grand Rapids, and Tacoma, have some variable rate component. The authors concluded that while choices between types and levels of sanitation service may be sensitive to price, the quantity of waste generated at the household level may not be sensitive to price. In Tacoma, residents had a high price elasticity of demand with respect to the number of cans or the choice of backdoor pickup, but because to the availability of waste drop-off centers, the price elasticity of garbage production was not significantly different than zero. The same was true in Grand Rapids and Sacramento. The report also found that as household income increases, so does the quantity of garbage produced.
Emmer, Terri and Neidhart, Jim. An Analysis of the Effects of Volume-Based Waste Disposal Fees on Consumer Behavior. Department of Resource Economics, University of New Hampshire.The authors of this report surveyed residents of Dover, New Hampshire to determine the effect of Dover's variable rate system on consumer behavior. The report concluded that unit pricing led to higher recycling participation rates and lower waste generation in Dover. The survey also found that while there was initially a wide range of consumer attitudes about recycling, six months into the program there was a convergence of attitudes and a more uniform level of commitment to the program's goals.
Enos, Gary. "Residents Clean Up With Waste-Cutting Incentive." City and State. February 25, 1991.A study of three areas, Bellevue, Washington, Lansing, Michigan, and the state of Rhode Island, that have either implemented or are considering implementing a variable rate system. Bellevue and Lansing reported success with their systems. In Bellevue, more residents switched to a smaller can, and in Lansing, the amount of waste sent to the city landfill fell by nearly 20%. The only difficulties with the system in either city were setting the rate structure, and concern that if too many customers reduced their waste too much, the waste haulers would not receive enough revenue to operate.
EPA Report. Pay-As-You-Throw: Lessons Learned About Unit Pricing of Municipal Solid Waste. EPA Office of Solid Waste (name changed to Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery on January 18, 2009) Report # EPA530-R-94-004. April, 1994.In December 1992, the EPA's Unit Pricing Roundtable met to discuss variable rates for waste collection. The result of that meeting is this guide for communities considering unit pricing. Before adopting variable rates, a community needs to consider its waste management needs and whether the potential benefits of unit pricing, reduced waste, increased recycling, pricing equity, and greater environmental awareness, will meet those needs. A community also must be aware of potential problems with unit pricing, including illegal dumping, higher costs, service to multi-unit housing complexes, and citizen resistance. When designing a unit pricing system, a community must decide among container options, set a pricing structure, create a billing system, and design program options. Implementation of unit pricing must be accompanied by public educational and outreach, and program monitoring. The report contains a number of brief case studies and information about specific programs, and a roundtable discussion with a number of unit pricing experts.
EPA report. Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Composting Options: Lessons Learned from 30 Communities. Report # EPA/530-R-92-015. February, 1994.This report focused on various strategies for municipalities to reduce net waste through composting, recycling and education. The report details approaches to increase levels of composting and recycling, as well as improving materials recovery from commercial activities and construction. The report provides a brief overview of variable refuse rates, and further comments on the positive effects of variable pricing on recycling participation and source reduction. Three additional volumes provide case studies on rural areas, suburbs and small cities, and urban areas.
Fletcher, Jeff. "Why Unit Pricing Makes Sense for Solid Waste: Environmental Protection Agency Project." Nation's Cities Weekly. March 12, 1999 19, 1992.The EPA is going to run a unit pricing demonstration project and is looking for communities interested in participating. Variable rates send a more accurate pricing signal to waste generators than traditional flat rate systems, and encourage garbage reduction. They are also fairer than flat rate systems, in that the residents that produce less garbage pay lower collection costs.
Folz, David H. "Recycling Program Design, Management, and Participation: A National Survey of Municipal Experience." Public Administration Review. May/June, 1991.The author conducted a survey of 264 recycling coordinators to determine what factors influence citizen participation in recycling programs. The study identified eleven specific operational policies, of which variable rates for garbage collection was not one. The survey showed that allowing public input during the planning and design process, mandating recycling participation, providing curbside service and free bins, and utilizing public education programs all contributed to higher participation rates. Same-day recycling and garbage pickup, and permitting commingling did not seem to significantly impact participation rates.
Fullerton, Don and Kinnaman, Thomas. Garbage, Recycling, and Illicit Burning or Dumping. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper # 4374. May, 1993.Analysis of an economic model of household waste disposal behavior shows that given three disposal options, collection, recycling, and illicit disposal, a unit fee would lead to some burning or dumping. However, a disposal tax on products, coupled with rebates for proper waste disposal, would encourage legal disposal of garbage. The study is purely theoretical and involves no empirical data.
Fullerton, Don and Kinnaman, Thomas. Household Demand for Garbage and Recycling Collection with the Start of a Price per Bag. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper # 4670. March, 1994.
A survey of a random sample of 75 Charlottesville, Virginia, households measured household garbage generation before and after the city implemented a unit pricing system. The survey found that while recycling increased 15% and the volume of garbage was reduced by an average of 37%, the weight of garbage was only reduced 14%. The authors concluded that residential trash compaction accounted for the difference between the volume reduction and the weight reduction. The survey also showed that approximately 28% of the total reduction was accounted for by illegal disposal. The authors based this figure on respondents that indicated they used "other means," as opposed to recycling, composting, and demanding less packaging at stores, to reduce their waste.
Goldberg, Dan. "The Magic of Volume Reduction." Waste Age. February, 1990.Unit pricing has led to reduced levels of garbage and increased recycling participation in several communities that have adopted the pricing system. In St. Paul, Minnesota, household participation in the recycling program increased on average from 15% to 32%. In Olympia, Washington, there was a 50% increase in the number of residents utilizing a smaller can. Illegal dumping is a potential concern with a unit pricing system, but it has not been a problem in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, or Seattle, Washington. Generally, problems with the system appear when it is first implemented, and they can be quickly corrected. Finally, 93% of Perkasie residents who were asked their opinion of unit pricing approved of the system. It has met with similar citizen satisfaction in other communities.
Harder, Greg and Knox, Linda. "Implementing Variable Trash Collection Rates." Biocycle. April, 1992.Variable rate systems in 36 Pennsylvania communities have shown success at reducing garbage generation and encouraging recycling. Citizen education at the outset of a unit pricing program is a very important element of the system. Communities should also be aware of the potential for backyard burning or illegal dumping, and take proactive steps to prevent such behavior. Other problems common to the 36 municipalities in this report were: bags that tear or are attacked by animals, tags that fall off, illegal grass dumping, service to apartments, and the use of counterfeit bags. The authors present case studies of Carlisle, Perkasie, and Forest City. They also describe the failure of unit pricing in Nanticoke, which lost 68% of its municipal customers when it switched to variable rates. The failure seemed largely due to the lack of a curbside recycling program in the town.
Hayes, Jeffrey. "Let the Market Replace the Madness: How to Control Rising Solid Waste." Public Works. December, 1992.The author advocates variable rate pricing as a tool to reduce waste. Variable rates not only encourage recycling, but they also induce garbage reduction, a preferable waste management strategy. Under unit pricing, Somersworth and Dover, New Hampshire have reduced their residential waste by 50%. The structure of variable rate systems vary, with different receptacles and different pricing schemes.
Hong, Seonghoon. An Economic Analysis of Household Recycling of Solid Wastes: The Case of Portland, Oregon. Ph.D. Dissertation. Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics. Ohio State University. November 21, 1991.The author designs a model of household waste generation behavior. The model is applied to Portland to see how a marginal pricing system, as well as other socio-economic factors, affect recycling behavior and the demand for garbage collection services. The analysis showed that increasing the price of collection increased household recycling participation, but did not significantly reduce demand for garbage collection services. Education level and value of time were also significant factors influencing households' degree of recycling participation. Income was a determinant of total waste generation, but demand for collection services was inelastic with respect to income.
Inside EPA. "EPA Probe of Household Waste Reduction to Focus on Per Volume Charge." August 10, 1990.
The EPA is evaluating the pros and cons of variable rate pricing to determine if the Agency should recommend it as a waste reduction incentive. The Agency will weigh the costs and benefits of unit pricing, as compared to flat rate pricing for garbage collection service. Unit pricing provides a clearer pricing signal to households, but it could also lead to illegal waste disposal and higher administrative costs. The Agency is unlikely to seek national unit pricing legislation, but may incorporate variable rates into its waste reduction guidelines for localities.
Jenkins, Robin. The Economics of Solid Waste Reduction. Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd., 1993.This book grew out of Jenkins' dissertation on the same subject. The author presents a model for residential waste generation that shows that user fees can have a significant impact on the level of waste generation, and that society's welfare gain from switching to unit pricing is substantial. The book also looks at commercial generation of solid waste and concludes that increasing already existing unit fees can have a big impact on waste generation levels. The book contains a literature review, models of household and firm waste generation behavior, demand equations for residential and commercial waste collection services, descriptions of the elements of the model, and the results of manipulating the model. The author studied five unit pricing communities (San Francisco, California, Estherville and Highbridge, New Jersey, and Seattle and Spokane, Washington) and four flat fee communities (Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg, Florida, Howard County, Maryland, and Bernalillo County, New Mexico).
Kemper, Peter and Quigley, John M. The Economics of Refuse Collection. Cambridge, MA; Ballinger Publishing Company. 1976.The authors provide a general overview of the economic issues in waste collection. Chapter five surveys the issues involved in a system employing user charges. They compare user charges to two other financing mechanisms: general revenues and service fees. The chapter addresses efficiency in theory, equity, federal income tax deductibility, revenue from tax-exempt institutions, and efficiency in practice. The authors note that "true user charges are rare" and do not provide much empirical evidence of the issues they discussed.
Lambert, Abigail F. Rate Proposal for a Weight-Based Pricing System for Residential Waste Collection in Durham, North Carolina. Master's Project, School of the Environment, Duke University. 1991.The author contends that the city of Durham, North Carolina, which currently funds residential garbage collection through general property tax revenues, ought to consider implementing weight-based rates to finance its collection service. Weight-based rates would send a more accurate pricing signal to city residents, and might reduce waste and encourage recycling. Five issues that the city ought to be aware of before implementing a variable rate system are: the need for political support and aggressive public education, the impact of variable fees on low-income residents, potential problems with illegal dumping, and necessary departmental changes. Lambert conducted an economic analysis of Durham's waste management system, considering collection costs, disposal costs, the added costs of a weight-based system, and estimated environmental and social costs. Based on this analysis, Lambert presented five options for a weight-based rate structure. She recommended a system that uses variable fees to cover landfill disposal costs, including environmental and social costs, and continues to finance the other costs of waste collection through property taxes. Such a system would give some price incentive to residents, but would still provide a stable revenue stream for the collection system. The author also recommended reduced rates for lower income residents.
Lewis, Thomas A. "Waste Not, Want Not." National Wildlife. June/July, 1993.
As landfills across the country approach capacity, disposal costs rise, and per capita waste generation continues to increase, source reduction has become a top priority for solid waste managers. Recycling is gaining popularity, both among solid waste officials and private citizens. Unit pricing provides an inducement to recycle, and to reduce the amount of waste put out for collection. Seattle, Washington and Perkasie, Pennsylvania have both had successful variable rate systems.
Menell, Peter S. "Beyond the Throwaway Society: An Incentive Approach to Regulating Municipal Solid Waste." Ecology Law Quarterly. Vol. 17, 655. 1990.Traditional pricing systems for garbage collection do not provide incentives for reducing waste or manufacturing products that produce less waste. The authors use an economic framework to analyze a variety of policy options for correcting this market distortion. The article provides an overview of the waste stream and available technologies for collecting and regulating waste, describes traditional flat rate or tax financed systems for funding waste disposal, and examines alternative methods, including curbside charges, retail disposal charges, and two-tier charges. According to the economic model, variable rate pricing and/or retail charges based on the disposal cost of different products are the best waste management strategies. They provide an accurate pricing signal to households and product suppliers. Local governments are best suited for designing the ideal solid waste regulatory system for their specific localities. The federal government can provide information and correct macroeconomic distortions, and the states can coordinate various local policies. The article is primarily theoretical, although it does briefly describe unit pricing systems in Seattle, Washington and Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
Miedema, Allen K. "Fundamental Economic Comparisons of Solid Waste Policy Options." Resources and Energy. Vol. 5. 1983.The author developed a macroeconomic model to analyze the effects of several waste management policy mechanisms. Miedema compared user fees, recycling subsidies, disposal charges and litter taxes to the status quo (i.e., none of these policy mechanisms in effect). He analyzed the real income effects, net waste effects, waste generation and resource recovery effects and recycling rate effects for these four policy tools given three different policy scenarios (those scenarios varied according to hypothesized changes in the diseconomies of scale for recycled materials suppliers and virgin materials suppliers). He found that user fees and litter taxes always had the same effects. The disposal charge always had a larger real income effect and the smallest net waste collected and disposed. In two out of the three simulations, the disposal charge had the highest recycling rate, while the recycling subsidy had the highest recycling rate in the simulation characterized by greater diseconomies to scale for virgin materials suppliers.
Miller, Chaz. "Pay-As-You-Throw: Less Weight? More Stuffing!" Waste Age. September, 1993.Unit pricing has been touted as way for municipalities to encourage higher recycling participation and reduce household waste generation. However, the system can also encourage overstuffing of garbage receptacles, illegal burning and dumping, and contamination of recycling receptacles with non-recyclable material. Can-based systems have complicated billing requirements. On the other hand, bags can tear and tags can be separated from set-outs. Furthermore, variable rates may be unfair to lower income residents, and political support for unit pricing is lacking in many areas. The author contends that there is no conclusive evidence that variable fees reduce residential waste generation. He bases most of his conclusions on anecdotal evidence and interviews with a few solid waste professionals.
Miranda, Marie Lynn; Everett, Jess W.; Blume, Daniel; and Roy, Barbeau A., Jr." Market-Based Incentives and Residential Municipal Solid Waste." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Vol. 13, No. 4. 1994.
The authors gathered waste generation data from 21 unit pricing communities. The data showed municipal waste generation before and after the implementation of variable rates. The average reduction in tonnage of waste landfilled was 40%, with a high of 74% and a low of 17%. Recycling increased, on average, by 126%, with a high of 456% and a low of 3%. The average reduction in overall waste generation was 40%, with an average recycling rate of 19%. Even accounting for illegal disposal and measurement error, the authors concluded that some of the waste reduction must have resulted from source reduction behavior. There were few problems among the 21 municipalities with illegal dumping. Burning was a problem in three of the cities, but it seemed to only account for about 20% of the total waste reduction. Burning stopped in Perkasie, Pennsylvania when the city adopted an anti-burning ordinance.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. State Solid Waste Policy Report: A Focus on Greater Minnesota.A review of Minnesota's waste management system. The report examines historical and contemporary state-wide programs, county initiatives, industrial and residential waste generation trends, waste collection and transportation systems, and collection system costs. The report also highlights public education efforts, and waste reduction, recycling, composting, waste-to-energy, and land disposal programs. Unit pricing is reviewed briefly, and St. Louis Park, a unit pricing town, is mentioned in the report.
Moriarty, Patrick. "Financing Waste Collection for Maximum Diversion." Biocycle. January, 1994.Illinois has set a statewide waste diversion mandate of 25% by 1996. The author surveys 23 municipalities in the Chicago area to determine how localities are responding to the mandate. Seven of the 23 communities have changed their rate structures since 1988, six of them adopting some form of variable collection fees. The average fee among the flat rate communities was $11.60, while the average per-bag fee in Downers Grove, Hoffman Estates, and LaGrange Park was $1.40. Thus, a household that put out less than two bags of garbage per week under the variable fee systems would spend less for waste collection than they would have under a flat rate system. The unit pricing communities also had higher recycling participation rates than the flat fee communities, and higher percentages of total waste recycled. The average tonnage recycled for flat fee communities was 18%, while for Hoffman Estates it was 31% and for Downers Grove it was 28%. The author also provided a case study of Hoffman Estates that described that community's program.
Morris, Glenn E. and Holthausen, Duncan M., Jr." The Economics of Household Solid Waste Generation and Disposal." Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Vol. 26. 1994.The authors design a model of household waste disposal behavior, taking into account various disposal options, including garbage pickup, recycling, and source reduction, and fee levels, both flat and variable. The simulation showed that households' elasticity of demand with respect to price for solid waste collection services varied significantly with the price of that service. Supported by actual waste and demographic data from Perkasie, Pennsylvania, the model showed that a typical household's utility was higher with variable rates than with a fixed rate system. Furthermore, as the user charge increased, households responded with greater waste minimization behavior and less recycling. Emphasizing one type of disposal option, recycling, for example, could dampen households' incentive to pursue another type, like source reduction.
"New Jersey Town Weighs in on Trash by the Pound: Mendham, New Jersey." World Wastes. February, 1993.An interview with the recycling coordinator of Mendham Township, New Jersey. Mendham switched to variable rates after their successful recycling program reduced residents' need for garbage collection service. The town went from two collections to one each week and residents saved an average of $200 annually. Recycling increased 83%, garbage was reduced 55%, and the town has saved money. The town has not experienced dumping or other significant problems. According to the coordinator, before adopting unit pricing, a municipality should consider whether a majority of residents will benefit financially from the system. The community might also want to consider having a base charge to cover fixed collection costs, and basing the variable rates on the city's disposal costs.
Norris, James L. "Recycling and computerized garbage tracking cut city's costs." Public Works. February, 1994.Athen, Ohio, facing a state-mandated 25% waste reduction goal, adopted a multi-tiered rate system for garbage collection to induce greater participation in the town's recycling program. Since its inception in 1982, the curbside recycling program has already reduced waste by as much as 50%. Athens also has a computerized billing system that keeps track of the amount of garbage each resident puts out for collection each week. The system is easy to use and has eliminated inaccuracies resulting from human error.
Owen, Melissa. "Integrated Waste Minimization (With Composting)." Biocycle. April, 1994.
Plano, Texas has an aggressive yard waste diversion program. The program includes a "Don't Bag It" Lawn Care Plan, which educed yard trimmings collection by 50% from 1991 to 1993, a backyard composting program, and biodegradable collection bags (20 for $5). Collected yard waste goes to a centralized composting facility. Plano's waste management system also includes a higher garbage collection fee for household waste in excess of the city-provided 95 lb. container.
"Pay-As-You-Throw Shows Rapid Growth." Biocycle. August, 1993.A recent Reason Foundation study shows that over 1,000 communities have adopted some form of variable rate pricing for garbage collection, and the number is rapidly increasing. Moreover, the towns report 25% to 45% reductions in the amount of waste sent to disposal facilities.
Project 88 - Round II. Incentives for Action: Designing Market-Based Environmental Strategies. A Policy Symposium Sponsored by Senator Timothy Wirth and Senator John Heinz. May, 1991.The symposium explored market-based solutions to environmental problems. Unit pricing was examined as a way to reduce waste generation by providing a better pricing signal to residents than traditional flat rate systems. While variable rates are implemented at the local level, the federal government can act as a information clearinghouse and can facilitate local efforts to implement unit pricing. Seattle, Washington and Perkasie, Pennsylvania have both experienced success with unit pricing, and problems like illegal dumping and the disparate impact of variable fees can be alleviated with proactive efforts on the part of the municipality. Perkasie reduced billing costs by using bags instead of varying prescription can sizes.
Reschovcky, James D. and Stone, Sarah E." Market Incentives to Encourage Household Waste Recycling: Paying for What you Throw Away." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Vol.l. 13, No. 1. Winter, 1994.
Unit pricing, which sends a more accurate pricing signal to households than traditional flat collection fees, has reduced waste and encouraged recycling in cities like Seattle, Washington and High Bridge, New Jersey. There are, however, practical concerns with unit pricing: rates are difficult to set, revenues are hard to predict, illegal dumping could occur, administrative costs may be high, variables fees could have a regressive impact on low income residents, common receptacles in multi-unit housing complexes preclude application of variable rates, and politicians may be unwilling to risk unpopularity. The authors studied unit pricing in Tompkins County, New York. They surveyed 3040 random households, and statistical analysis of the survey results found that curbside service had the greatest impact on recycling participation. While variable rates, alone, seemed to have only a minor impact, the combination of unit fees, curbside service, and mandatory recycling had the largest impact on participation. The survey was unclear on the potentially regressive impact of variable fees, and it found no evidence that the pricing system encouraged illegal dumping, although 51% of the residents surveyed said littering had increased, and 20% said they burned their trash. Two-thirds of the respondents said they favored unit pricing.
The author contends that Seattle will have trouble
reaching its 60% recycling goal. According to the
article, most avenues for increasing the rate of recycling
have been exhausted, and it will require draconian
measures to make 60%. The article also questioned
the savings the city was receiving from recycling,
and said there was a glut in the market for recyclables.
Finally, the author provided anecdotal evidence that
residents were stomping on their garbage, rather than
actually reducing it or recycling more.
Richard, Bill. "Recycling in Seattle Sets National
Standard but is Hitting Snags." Wall Street
Journal. August 3, 1993.
Richardson, Robert A. and Havlicek, Jr., Joseph. "Economic Analysis of the Composition of Household Solid Wastes." Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Vol. 5. 1978.The authors analyze the social and economic factors that affect the quantity and composition of the household solid waste stream. The weekly per capita and per household quantities of eleven household waste components were analyzed: clear glass, green glass, brown glass, aluminum, other metals, newsprint, other paper, textiles, plastics, grass, and garbage/other. Waste generation is positively correlated with income, age and household size, and negatively correlated with ethnic background (percentage of black households in a census track). Results indicate that if glass, plastics, textiles, paper and metals were recovered through recycling and incineration for energy production, around 53% of the summer household waste stream could be diverted from landfills. The economic feasibility of such resource recovery was not discussed.
Savas, E.S.; Baumol, Daniel; and Wells, William. "Financing Solid Waste Collection." The Organization and Efficiency of Solid Waste Collection. Lexington Books. 1977.
A chapter in Savas' book. The authors examined the effect of different methods of financing solid waste collection on the amount of residential waste generated and the cost of the collection service. They employed a survey of private citizens living in communities with a variety of collection systems. According to the survey, variable rates had little effect on either the amount of waste generated or the level of service requested. They also found that unit fees, whether flat or variable, increased billing costs for municipalities. Finally, they found that because local taxes are deductible from federal income tax returns, there was an incentive for communities to raise taxes to pay for garbage collection rather than institute user fees. These findings were based on comparisons of waste generation figures, service levels, and collection costs across tax financed, flat fee, and variable fee collection systems.
Scarlett, Lynn. Mandates or Incentives? Comparing Packaging Regulations with User Fees for Trash Collection. Reason Foundation publication No. 158. May, 1993.U.S. and Massachusetts solid waste management policy is beginning to address the nation's growing garbage crisis by stressing source reduction and recycling. Massachusetts is considering a state-level initiative that would set recycled content requirements for consumer products, and require reusable, reduced, or recycled packaging. An alternative market-based solution is unit pricing for residential waste collection. Unit pricing would create an incentive among consumers to source reduce, and that demand would cause producers to respond with reduced or recyclable packaging and products. The author reviews problems with recycling markets, and reports on the success of unit pricing in communities like Perkasie, Pennsylvania and Seattle, Washington. She identifies illegal disposal, garbage compaction, citizen resistance, and the impact of variable fees on low income residents as outstanding issues. The author conducts a cost-benefit comparison of packaging mandates and user fees for trash collection. She compares the reduced waste benefits of each system and their implementation costs. The author concludes that unit pricing can have a greater impact on the waste stream than packaging mandates, and it would be $210 to $215 cheaper per household each year.
"Seattle Engineers Say: Variable Can Rate Encourages Recycling." Waste Age. November, 1985.Since the start of unit pricing in Seattle in 1980, recycling tonnage has increased 60%. Also, the city's per capita waste generation rate climbed more slowly than other cities' rates. Moreover, 80% of the city's residents favor the system, and it had 91.5% compliance rate.
"Seattle Stomp." Garbage. Spring 1994.
A short description of the "Seattle stomp" phenomenon. Residents in Seattle and other unit pricing communities compact their trash to avoid higher collection fees. The author makes no effort to quantify the problem. Strategies to combat the "stomp" include weight-based fees, and instructing haulers to not collect receptacles that are overloaded.
Shanoff, Barry. "Communities Switch to By-the-Bag Billing System" World Wastes. March 12, 1999, 1992.
A report on the successes of unit pricing in several communities with variable rate systems. Utica, New York, Chester Township, New Jersey, Stonington, Connecticut, and Seattle, Washington have all adopted unit pricing. Each community's system has different features and different fee schedules. Proponents of variable rates argue that it is fairer than flat fees: those that produce less trash should be able to pay less. In some unit pricing communities, residents that reduce their waste pay significantly lower garbage collection fees than they did under a flat rate system. Unit pricing can also encourage illegal dumping, but localities have responded by locking commercial dumpsters.
Sherman, Steven. "Local Government Approaches to Source Reduction." Resource Recycling. September, 1991.In recent years, solid waste management policy has emphasized source reduction as a waste management strategy. Decreased solid waste generation can be accomplished by: reduced product weight or volume, reduced packaging, increased product durability, alterations in consumer purchasing patterns, greater efficiency in manufacturing processes, composting and other organic waste reduction techniques, and changes in the waste stream making it less hazardous. Strategies available to local governments to encourage waste reduction include public education, economic incentives, legislative mandates, on-site composting, and hazardous waste reduction. One of the economic incentives the author mentions is unit pricing. Unit pricing can be implemented by using metered bags or tags, or subscription containers. It provides a clear pricing signal to households that can lead to source reduction and increased recycling participation. It also influences consumer behavior, which will cause producers to respond with reduced packaging products.
Skumatz, Lisa; Van Dusen, Hans; and Carton, Jennie. "Garbage By The Pound: Ready to Roll with Weight Based Fees." Biocycle. November 1994.
Several communities across the country have run weight-based pricing pilot programs. They include Seattle, Washington, Columbia, South Carolina, Durham, North Carolina, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Farmington and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Residents participating in Seattle's program reduced their waste, by weight, an extra 15%. Collection times did not increase in Columbia during its pilot study. The scales used in Durham's test did not meet some accuracy standards, but those deficiencies have since been corrected by the manufacturer. Milwaukee will be running a test in the fall of 1994, and Farmington and Minneapolis, though their pilot studies went well, have put plans to fully implement weight-based rates on hold. Though weight-based systems incur high initial costs, communities can achieve long-term savings from reduced waste.
Skumatz, Lisa A. Variable Rates for Municipal Solid Waste: Implementation Experience, Economics, and Legislation. Reason Foundation Publication No. 160. June, 1993.Unit pricing programs have a variety of different features. They can use bags, tags, or prescription cans, they may be city-run or contracted out to a private hauler, they are often accompanied by various complementary programs, including curbside recycling and backyard composting, and they sometimes have special features for servicing multi-unit housing, or helping low income residents. Successfully implementing unit pricing requires political support, the involvement of all concerned parties, citizen education, and program flexibility. Variable rates in cities like Seattle, Washington and Perkasie, Pennsylvania, have reduced landfilled waste and increased recycling participation. Concerns about the program include illegal dumping, backyard burning, and unstable hauler revenue. Three states, Washington, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, have laws requiring variable fees for waste collection. Indiana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Vermont, Illinois, and Montana all encourage local authorities to use unit pricing. The author concludes by laying out four steps for evaluating the performance of a unit pricing program. They are: 1) determine the level of participation; 2) measure any changes in residential waste disposal patterns; 3) assess the linkage between variable rates and the observed changes in disposal behavior; and 4) identify the net benefit and cost-effectiveness of the program.
Skumatz, Lisa A. and Zach, Philip A. "Community Adoption of Variable Rates: An Update." Resource Recycling. June, 1993.Spread across 26 states, variable rate systems are often adopted in response to increasing tipping fees, a desire to increase recycling efforts, and statewide or regional diversion requirements. Some of the issues involved with implementing a variable rate system include its compatibility with the existing collection system, the size of the community, illegal dumping, and multi-family housing facilities. Political support for the system is crucial, design planning is important, and the system should include a strong citizen education effort.
Sproule, Kimberly A. and Cosulich, Jeanne M. "Higher Recovery Rates: The Answer's in the Bag." Resource Recycling. November/December, 1988.
The authors surveyed 12 per-unit fee systems, and the article describes five of them: Holland, Michigan, Perkasie, Pennsylvania, Woodstock, Illinois, Newport, New York, and High Bridge, New Jersey. It also provides basic information, like container type, fee, and complementary programs offered, for all 12. The five cities described in the article all reported success with their systems, although reduction rates are not given for all of them.
Stavins, Robert N. "Market Forces Can Help Lower Waste Volumes." Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy. Spring, 1993.In response to tougher federal regulations and the need for more effective waste management strategies, communities have experimented with a number of innovative systems. They include different pricing schemes for waste collection services, including unit pricing, retail disposal charges and virgin material charges, tradeable permits for industry-wide recycling mandates, and a deposit/refund system for discouraging illegal disposal of waste. The author uses Seattle's unit pricing system as an example.
Stevens, Barbara. Pricing Schemes for Refuse Collection Services: The Impact on Refuse Generation. Research Paper # 154. Columbia University Graduate School of Business. January, 1977.A variable rate pricing scheme is administratively feasible, and it would convey to consumers the true cost of waste disposal. The author uses an economic model of household waste generation behavior to predict the effect of variable rates for refuse collection on the demand for those services. She also conducted a survey of 93 cities with variable fee systems. She found that for a 10% increase in the price of collection, demand for service went down 9%. However, refuse generation only decreased by .5% to 1.17%.
Stone, Sarah and Harrison, Ellen. "Residents Favor User Fees." Biocycle. August, 1991.
Tompkins County, New York has a county-wide unit pricing program for waste collection. The authors surveyed 3,034 randomly selected households in the county and received a 49% response rate. 63% of the respondents were "very much in favor" or "somewhat in favor" of the county's variable fee system. 51% said they recycled more because of the program, 16% said they composted more, and 39% said they were more attentive to product packaging when they shopped.
"Taking the Innovative Approach to Waste Hauling." Biocycle. July, 1993.Tom Kraemer Sanitation Co. provides collection service to a half-dozen small towns in Minnesota near St. Cloud. The hauler charges a flat base rate, and sells tags for each 30-gallon container put out for collection. It also uses a truck-based co-collection system for garbage and curbside recycling. The hauler saves money from reduced disposal costs, and brings in increased revenue from the sale of recyclables.
U.S. Conference of Mayors. A Primer on Variable Rate Pricing for Solid Waste Services. June, 1994.A general introductory brochure for municipalities considering a unit pricing system. Unit pricing passes variable waste disposal costs onto the household producers of garbage. It encourages waste reduction and increased recycling. It is fair, it helps to conserve landfill space, and it increases collection efficiency. Unit pricing systems can use prescription cans, bags, or tags, and can be weight-based, volume-based, or a hybrid of flat rates and variable rates. Implementation issues include assuring sufficient revenues, the impact on poor residents, illegal dumping, public acceptance, recycling contamination, and service to multi-unit housing. To develop a successful program, localities must clearly define their goals, develop a complete plan, start with a pilot study, obtain political support, and develop a public education strategy.
Wertz, Kenneth. "Economic Factors Influencing Households' Production of Refuse." Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. Vol. 2. 1976.The author uses a series of economic models to determine the impact of several waste collection service options on the level of household garbage generation. He also surveys six communities in the Detroit, Michigan area, and studies the collection system in San Francisco. There is an economic externality associated with traditional flat rate pricing systems for waste collection. Flat rates do not take into account the marginal disposal cost of incremental levels of garbage. Increasing flat rates somewhat decrease waste generation, but only through an income effect. There will be no substitution to lower waste generating behavior. However, variable rate pricing will more directly encourage waste reduction. The author also concluded that waste generation increases with income, with more frequent municipal collection service, and with less convenient collection sites (i.e., curbside rather than backdoor).
Zimmerman, Elliott. Solid Waste Management Alternatives: Review of Policy Options to Encourage Waste Reduction. A Report to the Illinois Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Energy and Environmental Affairs Division. February, 1988.Waste reduction should be a top priority for the state of Illinois. Three policy approaches that encourage waste reduction are mandates, financial incentives and disincentives, and research and education. Unit pricing is one financial incentive that could be used by localities to encourage households to reduce garbage putouts and increase waste reduction and diversion efforts. There are three potential drawbacks to this pricing method. First of all, a 1979 EPA study found no statistically significant relationship between variable rates and garbage generation, so unit pricing might not have an impact on residential waste. Also, user fees, unlike property taxes, are not deductible from federal tax returns, so residents could lose money in increased tax payments. Finally, federal revenue sharing arrangements do not take into account user fees as local tax revenue, so municipalities could lose federal support by lowering property taxes in favor of variable rates.
Additional Sources of Information
Angelo, James J. Should Brevard County, Florida Adopt a Unit Pricing Program for Municipal Solid Waste? Undergraduate Honors Project, Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University. April, 1993.
Felton, Mary K. "A Snapshot of Waste Generation and Recovery." Resource Recycling. January 1995.
Fiske, Gary S. "Rates: A Powerful Tool to Reduce the Waste Stream." Solid Waste and Power. March/April, 1992.
Franklin Associates, Ltd. The Role of Recycling in Integrated Solid Waste Management to the Year 2000. Prepared for Keep America Beautiful, Inc. September 1994.
Guerrieri, Tony M. An Assessment of Unit Pricing for Municipal Solid Waste. A Report for the Pennsylvania Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee. September, 1994.
Hong, Seonghoon. An Economic Analysis of Household Recycling of Solid Wastes: The Case of Portland, Oregon. PhD Dissertation. Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics. Ohio State University. November 21, 1991.
Jenkins, Robin. Municipal Demand for Solid Waste Disposal Services: The Impact of User Fees. PhD Dissertation, Department of Economics, University of Maryland. 1991.
Miranda, Marie Lynn and Joseph E. Aldy. Unit Pricing of Residential Municipal Solid Waste: Lessons from Nine Case Study Communities. School of the Environment, Duke University, 1995.
Skumatz, Lisa A. "Introducing the Hybrid Variable Rate System." Biocycle. November, 1993.
Skumatz, Lisa. Variable Rates: Using Your Rate Structure to Encourage Waste Reduction and Recycling. Draft Paper. Undated.
Toomey, William A. "Meeting the Challenges of Yard Trimmings Diversion." Biocycle. May, 1994.