The Increasing Global
Trend Toward PAYT
the world, participation in PAYT has increased. Municipal solid
waste (MSW) managers are focusing on both the environmental and
economic sustainability of their MSW programs. Currently, PAYT is
being considered by larger U.S. cities from coast to coast. The
lead article discusses this big city trend and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) assistance available to them.
The popularity of PAYT is not just an American phenomenon. In countries
as diverse as China, Israel, and Brazil, interest in PAYT is gaining
momentum. Beginning on page 2 of this Bulletin, we detail a PAYT
program of one of our northern neighbors and also glance at a program
from "down under."
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Big Cities Explore PAYT
PAYT encourages waste prevention and recycling, which in turn leads
to increased global climate change benefits (see "Climate Change,
PAYT, and You" in the summer 1999 issue). Communities with large
populations can contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse
gas emissions by instituting a PAYT program. Large cities, however,
often face complex challenges when designing and implementing a
PAYT program, from accommodating multi-family buildings to educating
non-English speakers to financing the program without straining
overburdened city services. To help large cities address these concerns,
EPA recently cosponsored a workshop with the International City/County
Management Association (ICMA).
Ten cities attended the hands-on workshop held in May in Chicago,
Illinois, including New York City, New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico;
Ann Arbor, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; Honolulu, Hawaii; and
Miami Beach, Florida. The workshop began with a presentation of
the key issues and steps involved in implementing a successful PAYT
program by PAYT technical experts from Seattle, Washington; San
Jose, California; and Austin, Texas. Later in the workshop, participants
were given the option of attending an in-depth session on how to
set PAYT rates. Attendees found the workshop to be informative and
helpful. "Talking with representatives from other PAYT cities was
helpful in gaining insight into the logistics and potential barriers
of implementing a PAYT program," said Lisa Maack, a program manager
with the City of New Orleans Department of Sanitation.
To maintain the momentum gained at the Chicago workshop, ICMA is
providing followup technical assistance to big cities serious about
implementing a PAYT program. Of the cities in attendance, three
are beginning work to implement PAYT programs. Officials from one
of these cities, New Orleans, Louisiana, believe PAYT is the key
to improving their curbside recycling program.
Even though New Orleans' curbside recycling program enjoys a 50
percent participation rate, city officials would like to see the
program increase its recycling tonnage rate and economic viability.
The approximately 150,000 households in the program currently pay
for garbage and recycling services through a flat fee on their monthly
water bill. The mayor of the city is interested in learning more
about how PAYT would work in New Orleans, including addressing concerns
about illegal dumping. To explore both PAYT and improvements to
the curbside recycling program, the city set up a task force comprised
of community groups. As part of the technical assistance provided
by ICMA, the task force and city council will receive one-on-one
guidance about PAYT tailored to the city's specific needs.
As New Orleans progresses in its efforts to bring PAYT to the city,
EPA will follow the process to garner tips and solutions for the
benefit of other big cities. Stay tuned!
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Crossing Borders- PAYT Success in Canada
PAYT programs continue to gain momentum in the United States, our
northern neighbors also have started reaping the program's environmental
and economic benefits, spreading the unit-pricing word from Quebec
to British Columbia. One community in particular, St. Albert, Alberta,
has a well-established, successful "user pay" waste collection program.
St. Albert's experience in designing, implementing, and maintaining
their program offers a glimpse of PAYT on the international stage,
revealing unique regional features as well as the challenges and
rewards familiar to any PAYT community.
on the banks of the Sturgeon River and bordering the sprawling metropolis
of Edmonton, Alberta, St. Albert was the first city in western Canada
to implement a full PAYT system. While many communities face the
challenge of gaining residents' support for a unit-pricing system,
St. Albert's residents provided the impetus for the change, with
64 percent voicing support for a PAYT system before it was even
implemented. Under their previous system, residents began to cite
the inequity of a situation where someone who sets out 1 can of
refuse pays as much as someone who sets out 10 cans.
Capitalizing on this enthusiasm for reform, the city experimented
with two pilot programs designed to assess public satisfaction with
different containers and collection systems. St. Albert modeled
its program on several different cities, including Victoria, British
Columbia, and Seattle, Washington; program developers also relied
on EPA's rate structure tools and materials during this development
stage. Based on the success of these two pilots-residents disposed
of 20 percent less waste and diverted 10 times more yard trimmings-St.
Albert moved all waste management costs (including collection and
transportation) from the tax base to the utility bill and fully
implemented a PAYT program.
Aside from waste reduction potential, the city gleaned other important
feedback from the pilot projects, learning that while half of the
residents preferred bags, the other half wanted to use cans. To
accommodate these preferences, St. Albert set up a bag and can program,
allowing residents to choose their preferred containers. Whether
choosing bags or cans, all residents select from three subscription
volumes: one, two, or three cans (or bag equivalents) and paying
the corresponding rate on their utility bills. If they exceed their
limit, they must buy a $1.50 sticker for every additional bag or
can they set out.
Although most of St. Albert's residents welcomed the PAYT program,
a change is still a change, and the city faced the familiar challenge
of publicizing and promoting its new system. Outreach brochures
and pamphlets were dispersed, but City Engineer Dwayne Kalynchuk
describes the city's most effective educational device as unusually
entertaining. "We had a local children's theater group perform a
skit, set to rap music, about the PAYT program and its benefits.
They even used garbage cans as instruments, touring schools and
malls and generating a lot of public and media interest. It was
really something different, a neat way to capture everyone's attention."
these innovative outreach strategies paid off. In the 3 years since
St. Albert's PAYT program took off, the city's overall garbage disposal
rate has dropped by more than 40 percent, already nearing the 50
percent reduction goal by 2000 set by the Canadian Council of Ministers
of the Environment (CCME). The program also has been voted the Outstanding
Municipal Program by the Recycling Council of Alberta and has been
featured in numerous publications.
With its impressive achievements, it's hard to imagine that St.
Albert faced many obstacles in its PAYT implementation, but in actuality,
Kalynchuk noted that one of the program's problems was, in fact,
its overwhelming success. "The program created such a reduction
in waste that its revenues fell short in the first year and we had
trouble covering the cost of collection. We had to raise fees and
that was not well received. It's really important to be conservative
on rate estimates, making careful predictions of your diversion
rates." Kalynchuk also mentioned that challenges continue to arise
in the maintenance of the program. "A continuing education program
would help reinforce the messages and methods that our initial outreach
efforts emphasized. In addition, consistent enforcement of program
collection rules is essential to keeping all residents in step with
For more information on St. Albert's PAYT program, contact Dwayne
Kalynchuk (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 780 459-1653.
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PAYT Down Under
other international PAYT news, the Hunter Waste Planning and Management
Board of New South Wales, Australia, recently released two research
reports recommending the institution of a variable rate system.
The first report focuses on investigating and reviewing existing
PAYT programs and assesses the different pricing systems. The second
report covers implementation strategies that could be employed for
each of the pricing systems. The Board has begun discussing the
variable rate system with elected officials, and implementation
will begin thereafter.
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PAYT Continues to Grow
Approximately 4,030 communities currently employ unit-based pricing,
according to the latest report from Duke University. This represents
a 16 percent increase in the number of PAYT communities since Duke
began reporting this information in 1997. Duke gathers this data
by contacting municipal, county, and state-level solid waste and
recycling administrators, as well as private haulers. For a complete
list of these communities, log on to the PAYT Web site at www.epa.gov/payt/comm-2.htm.
Check It Out
EPA PAYT Web site keeps getting bigger and better. Just added to
the site are two clips from the new PAYT video, Pay-As-You-Throw:
A New Trend in Sustainable Solid Waste Management. They can
be viewed at www.epa.gov/payt/tools/clips.htm
using either AVI or RealPlayer. After viewing the clips, use the
online video order form on the same page to obtain your copy of
Do your community a great service and broadcast the PAYT video,
Pay-As-You-Throw: A New Trend in Sustainable Solid Waste Management
on your local cable station. The first part of the video provides
a general introduction to PAYT for residents and others who may
be unfamiliar with this type of program. The second part provides
more detailed information on key design and operational issues surrounding
and showing this video is very easy. EPA has established a lending
library for community access and municipal stations. If you are
interested in airing part or all of this video on your channel,
EPA will loan you a copy of the tape in the format of your choice
for you to dub and play as often as you like. There is no charge
to participate, except the cost of tape stock! To obtain an order
form and/or more information, call the PAYT Helpline at 888 EPA-PAYT.
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