PAYT Bulletin: Fall 2007
“Research has demonstrated that PAYT is the most effective single action that can increase recycling and diversion, and can also be one of the most cost-effective.”
— Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc.
- Save the Date!
- PAYT Bagged Leaf Collection in Longmeadow
- Special Visitor
- Welcome, Toronto!
- Ireland Study Gives PAYT a Thumbs Up!
- PAYT Across the Pond
- PAYT in the News!
- Community Initiatives
It’s been an exciting summer for Pay-As-You-Throw! Not only has PAYT continued to expand across the U.S. and abroad, but we are also thrilled to announce a whole new chapter in the promotion of PAYT.
In its on-going effort to both conserve our nation’s natural resources and reduce our climate footprint, the Environmental Protection Agency is launching the WasteWise Communities (WWC) campaign. The goal of WWC is to encourage more cities to join WasteWise, to measure their ghg reductions from their municipal solid waste activities, and to create Business-Community partnerships that augment cities’ waste reduction tonnages.
Obviously, PAYT plays an integral role in the success of these partnerships. After all, PAYT is one of the best ways for communities to effectively manage their waste stream and their product life cycle!
Now, we are pleased to bring you the first e-bulletin to highlight all of these efforts as we all work to reduce municipal waste across the country and the planet.
“Building Community and Business Partnerships”
WWC will provide exciting opportunities to obtain information and to network with other businesses and cities that are engaged in the Climate & Waste connection. To learn more about WasteWise Communities, please join us for the 2007 WasteWise and NPEP Annual Conference November 13-15, 2007 in Washington, DC. November 14th will be a day devoted to learning about WasteWise.
Check the conference Web site at www.epa.gov/wastewise/conf.htm for the agenda and online registration.
After a successful fourth year in 2006, the town of Longmeadow, Massachusetts has decided to continue its curbside bagged leaf collection program in 2007.
Longmeadow residents can buy 33-gallon clear plastic leaf bags with green “Town of Longmeadow” writing on them at locations such as the town hall and local hardware store. Bags are sold in packs of ten for $5.00. Leaf bags, when full, can weigh no more than 40 pounds and must contain only leaves.
The PAYT leaf removal program, which was first implemented on November 1, 2003, has produced visible results for the town. It has meant less leaves stacked for long periods of time on the tree belt, resulting in catch basins being leaf-free during heavy rains and no leaf-related interference with snow plowing operations. The town is also much cleaner throughout the leaf collection season.
Longmeadow residents have three alternatives for leaf disposal. Besides use of the town’s fee-based curbside bag collection program, Recycling Center stickers are available for purchase for residents who choose to transport their leaves directly to the meadows. Private contractors may also be used for leaf removal.
Collection runs from early November through mid-December. More information can be found at www.longmeadow.org .
In 1994, Professor Jung Hoon, a senior researcher for the Seoul Metropolitan government in South Korea, developed a volume-based garbage collection fee system. The Korean system is very similar to PAYT programs across the United States. Professor Hoon is currently visiting Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar and taking the opportunity to research PAYT programs in Massachusetts (where one-third of the communities in the state participate in PAYT!)
Joining a growing number of international cities, Toronto recently approved a PAYT program. The plan, passed by the city council on June 20, is expected to divert 250,000 tons of waste from landfills each year, increasing the city’s diversion rate from the current 42 percent to 70 percent by the year 2010.
The program will not be fully implemented until late summer or early fall of 2008. In the meantime, homeowners will decide which size garbage bin they require from four options. The smallest container costs $209 a year and holds the equivalent of one large garbage bag, to be picked up every two weeks. The $360 container, the largest, holds about 4.5 bags. The city intends to provide a $209 annual credit on a household’s water and solid waste bill, so a family using the smallest container will incur no extra costs. Residents will also choose a recycling bin at no charge. City officials say polystyrene and more types of plastic will be eligible for recycling once the new system is implemented, meaning conscientious residents will have less trash to throw out.
“This is an investment,” said Mayor David Miller, an enthusiastic supporter of the new system. “There will be long-term savings.”
“Change is always disconcerting, but most people understand that we’ve got to promote diversion,” said Councilor Howard Moscoe (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence). “In this case, user fees make sense because it will encourage people to divert more.”
The plan currently covers single-family homes in Toronto. Apartments and condos will be added to the program over an 18-month period, bringing the city’s 526,000 apartment households into the new system by the end of 2009.
A study by Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency has taken a look at PAYT programs and found some exciting statistics. The study, which included a literature review and case study, affirmed that PAYT programs, especially those that are weight-based, can have a positive effect on communities.
The study began with a literature review of papers on unit-based fees in academic journals. This review revealed that a 10 percent rise in price would lead to an expected waste reduction of between 1.4 and 2.3 percent. One study found a 2.6 percent decrease in waste when weight-based pricing was implemented. Across the waste management systems examined in the literature, the available evidence suggests that weight-based systems, as opposed to volume-based, have the potential to achieve a higher rate of waste reduction. Declines of 30 percent or more are not uncommon and a further decrease can occur in subsequent years. A key to success is the availability of alternative disposal options, such as recycling centers.
After the literature review, the study focused on the experience of households in West Cork, where the city council introduced a weight-based system of waste removal in 2003. A representative sample of 1200 households was interviewed, of which nearly 300 had usable data on weights of waste collected in the year before and the year after the introduction of the new system. A comparison between the pre and post years showed a 45 percent reduction in the weight of waste collected from households. The average reduction per household was more than 950 pounds!
Also, sixty-seven percent of households reported that they would like to recycle more than they do now. This positive response rose with the level of education of the respondent. The highest positive response, 76 percent, was from households with adults and dependent children, which bodes well for the recycling rate of future generations.
Almost 50 percent of households studied had been recycling before the new system was announced. Over a fifth started during 2003 when the program was up and running. Interestingly, 17 percent started recycling when the program was announced, even though they were not being charged by weight yet, suggesting that there was also an ‘announcement effect.’
There were also encouraging findings on participant attitudes. Nearly two-thirds of respondents thought that the new system was fair. A small majority thought the weight-based charges were better than the previous flat charge, while nearly 80 percent said they were better than paying for waste through a tax increase.
PAYT may continue its global growth with a jump across the pond. A recent survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that almost two-thirds of people would support a pay-as-you-throw program in England and Wales. Sixty-four percent of those polled said they were in favor of lowering taxes and charging based on volume, with recyclers paying less.
The LGA has identified three possible PAYT programs for England and Wales. One option is to fit wheeled collection bins with microchips to allow garbage to be weighed as it is dumped into garbage trucks. Another is to allow households to choose different sizes of wheeled bins, paying more for larger receptacles. The sale of various sizes of pre-paid garbage bags is being promoted in more urban areas. The LGA said any program would be dependent on local circumstances and support by residents.
Councilor Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA's environment board, said, "There is now strong public support for schemes that reward people for recycling and councils should be given the power to introduce these where it is appropriate to do so." The LGA also pointed out that PAYT programs elsewhere in Europe have led to dramatic reductions in household waste and much higher recycling rates.
This would be a big step forward for the United Kingdom, which produces more waste per person than many of its European neighbors and also has one of the worst recycling rates. The government has been exploring different measures to meet fast-approaching European Union landfill targets, which demand a 25 percent reduction on 1995 levels by 2010 and a 65 percent cut by 2020.
Last week, the government also announced possible plans to increase the number of recycling bins placed next to public garbage cans in an effort to encourage more recycling.
A recent column by Elisabeth Rosenthal in the International Herald Tribune takes a look at the benefits of user-pay for waste removal seen all over the world (starting with one place you probably won’t expect!)
Communities all over the country are finding new ways to reduce their waste. PAYT applauds these initiatives.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued the following news release on July 19:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded a $492,600 grant to the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board to expand existing recycling and reuse projects on Hawaii Island.
“The management of solid waste is especially critical to an island state such as Hawaii,” said Steven Barhite, acting director of the waste management division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “This new grant will build on the success of previous efforts and extend current programs- playing an essential role in reducing the amount of solid waste that goes to the landfills on Hawaii Island.”
The project establishes a model for renewable resource management on the island. This grant upgrades a solid waste transfer station into a community recycling center to divert resources from solid waste disposal. The effort will develop innovative solutions for collecting, reusing, and recycling products. In addition, educational outreach and results will be measured and reported.
The goals of the project are to:
- stimulate on-island reuse, composting, and recycling;
- create jobs and income for island residents;
- comply with the state’s waste management goals;
- reduce the county’s overall solid waste management costs; and
- create partnerships with businesses to increase the amount of recovered materials
The current grant builds on successful efforts to improve reuse and recycling in West Hawaii and at Kea’au in East Hawaii.
To date, the centers have recycled or mulched nearly 1,300 tons of resources and made possible the reuse of 122 tons of resources. The effort has conserved over 28,000 million BTUs of energy- the equivalent of removing 415 cars from the road each year or not using 226,000 gallons of gasoline each year. Hawaii Island has achieved a 69 percent recycling rate for beverage containers, the highest in the state. Both locations recycle aluminum, office paper, magazines, plastics, cardboard, mixed paper, inkjet and toner cartridges, newspaper, #1 and #2 plastics, and glass. The West Hawaii location also houses a redemption center for the implementation of the state bottle bill.
The Hawaii’i Island Economic Development Board and County of Hawaii have received more than $1.5 million in four EPA Congressional appropriation grants to develop model reuse and recycling capacity to serve the island’s rural communities.
Recycling Pays Off in Maryland — Anne Arundel County makes $1.88 million a year from recycling center
For the past year, recycling has been much easier for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, residents. No longer is it necessary to keep paper in one pile, cans in another. Residents now toss all recyclables into one bin, and then all of the sorting is done in a new 50,000-square-foot regional recycling center. More than 1,000 tons of recyclables are processed each day, profiting not only the owner but also Anne Arundel County—and ultimately benefiting taxpayers.
Anne Arundel County has offered recycling pickup to all single-family homes and many townhouse communities since 1992. The program started with paper, cans, bottles, and jars; yard waste recycling was added two years later. It is only within the past year that residents have been able to mix all of their recyclables in one bin. About 70 percent of residents recycle to some extent. Overall, 30 percent of the county’s waste winds up being recycled, for a total of 42,000 tons. But officials are aiming higher, predicting the county can achieve a 50 percent recycling rate.
More recyclables means a larger profit. After considering the costs of the bins, paying county staff, and hiring haulers, the county saw a $1.8 million profit on recycling last year. That is because about 96 percent of recyclables ultimately are sold and the county gets a share of the profits. This helps keep the trash fees down for county taxpayers.
“This is a good business decision,” said Linda K. Currier, the county’s solid waste operations administrator. “This is about saving money for the county, saving money for our customers.” Recycling also helps extend the life of the Millersville Landfill, the county’s only dump. The current cell should last through 2016, and the final cell should last 40 years more. But after that, there are no plans for another landfill. Landfills are large, expensive, and difficult to locate. “It’s in all of our best interest to make this landfill last as long as possible,” said Ms. Currier.
To help boost recycling, the county has been giving away larger, 32-gallon recycling bins. Ms. Currier encourages residents to remember to recycle in all areas of their home, not just the kitchen, where most recycling bins reside. Office paper should also be recycled, as well as shampoo bottles from the bathroom or cans from backyard cookouts.
Beginning in 2009, Seattle residents will be required to recycle food scraps. The city will implement a new program to provide all single-family homes with food waste pickup service for composting. The zero-waste strategy, unanimously passed by the Seattle City Council on July 16, also caps the amount of waste the city can send to the landfill.
The plan will increase recycling, reduce trash, and update Seattle’s transfer stations while avoiding building a planned third transfer station. It calls for capping the amount of waste Seattle will send to landfills at 440,000 tons per year, the amount the city disposed of in 2006.
The City Council has also instructed Seattle Public Utilities to begin looking into whether noncompostable plastic shopping bags and polystyrene foam food containers should be banned or discouraged through taxation.