Pay as You Throw? Is Your Town Next?

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Are you recycling everything you possibly can? Or do your recyclables end up in the garbage can because it’s too much trouble to rinse them out or confirm whether they can be recycled? If you’re not diligently recycling everything possible, it may come back to bite your pocket book.

Recycling and waste collectionTo date, thousands of communities across the U.S. have implemented Pay As You Throw (PAYT) Municipal Waste Programs.  Case in point, San Antonio just launched its Pay As You Throw program.

So just what is Pay As You Throw? In a nutshell, it is exactly what the name implies you pay according to how much trash you generate.

The benefits of implementing a Pay As You Throw program can be significant to local communities, including decreases in municipal solid waste, reduction in disposal costs and increased recycling rates. Of course, there are many variables including community participation and program model.

Depending upon the area, the Pay As You Throw program could follow one of three models:

  1. Full-unit pricing: You pay for all of the garbage you want collected in advance by purchasing a tag, custom bag or selected size container.
  2. Partial-unit pricing: You are allowed a maximum number of bags or containers of garbage each week, with trash collection paid for by taxes. If you need additional bags or containers, you can purchase them for an extra fee.
  3. Variable-rate pricing: You can choose to rent containers that vary in size depending upon your needs. The price you pay will correspond with how much waste you generate.

While there is often initial pushback in communities when a Pay As You Throw program is implemented, it can pay off big. The incentive to start recycling and composting while reducing the amount of trash generated makes people think more about the waste they generate and how they can reduce it.

Pay As You Throw programs can truly have a big impact on our environment. Connecticut DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy calculated that if every Connecticut town adopted a Pay As You Throw program and averaged a 40% diversion rate, the environmental benefit would equal taking 446,250 cars off the roads! Imagine what the impact would be if every state in the US started using the Pay As You Throw model.

Does your community use a Pay as You Throw Program? Have you seen recycling rates increase? Share your experiences with us!

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Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.