United States
 Environmental Protection
Solid Waste and
Emergency Response
October 1999
 Pay-As-You-Th row
 A  Cooling   Effect  on
 Climate  Change
Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) is a program that encourages residents to reduce the amount
of waste they generate and to recycle more. The benefits of this program go beyond the
obvious advantages of generating less waste. The manufacture and distribution of prod-
ucts and the subsequent management of municipal solid waste (MSW) contribute to the
formation of greenhouse gases. To lower greenhouse gas emissions from these actions,  as
well as for other environmental benefits, EPA is encouraging waste prevention and recy-
cling (jointly referred to as waste reduction) through the PAYT Outreach Initiative.
      PAYT programs break with tradition
      by ensuring that households see and
      feel the cost  of waste disposal ser-
 vices. Under a traditional system, residents
 pay  indirectly for these services through
 their property taxes or through a flat fee.
 "With PAYT, residents pay directly for trash
 services based on the amount of waste they
 throw away—similar to the way they pay
 for electricity, gas, and other utilities.

 When consumers pay for every bag or can of
 waste they generate, they are motivated
 to recycle more and look for creative ways
 to prevent waste in the first place. In
 communities  that implement PAYT,
 overall waste disposal  can  decline
 by 14 to  27 percent  on average.
 In  addition, recycling  rates  often
 increase dramatically in these communities,
 sometimes reaching double or even triple
 what they had been before the program was
 Some residents  in  PAYT  communities
 change their  behavior in other significant
 ways. While shopping, they are more likely to
 purchase items in bulk and to select products
 with the least amount of unnecessary packag-
 ing. Rather than throw items away, a PAYT
 household is likely to look first for ways to
              reuse these goods or to give them away, as
              charitable donations, for  example. Rather
              than bag yard trimmings and leaves, house-
              holds might choose instead to compost these
              materials in their backyards.

              How  DOES PAYT
              HELP  REDUCE
              GREENHOUSE  CAS
                PAYT programs  are based  on a simple
                  premise: trash services are not free. One
                   important cost of solid waste, in addi-
                   tion to its other environmental effects,
                   is climate change. Whenever products
                   are made, distributed, and disposed of,
                  greenhouse gases are released and con-
                 tribute to climate change. Community
              PAYT programs—which spur residents to
              prevent and recycle more waste—can reduce
              greenhouse gas emissions significandy.
              When we reduce, reuse, and recycle products,
              we decrease  the greenhouse gas emissions
              associated with making, distributing, and dis-
              posing of these products. For example, when
              we buy in bulk, we purchase less packaging.
              That means  lower energy requirements for
              manufacturing. It means less waste that
  Printed on paper that contains at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber.

    might create mediane emissions in landfills, and, if paper
    products are at issue, it means more trees standing in die for-
    est to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
    Is it possible to measure  die climate change benefits  of
    PAYT? Yes! To help quantify die climate change benefits of
    waste reduction programs such as PAYT, EPA conducted a
    comprehensive study of die relationship between solid waste
    management and climate change. The study estimated die
    greenhouse gas emissions associated with managing major
                  commodity types in die MSW stream. The
                  study resulted in die development of green-
                  house gas emission factors that can be used
                  to calculate the climate change  benefits of
                  various waste management practices.
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    To analyze die specific climate change benefits of PAYT pro-
    grams, EPA used these greenhouse gas emission factors in
    combination widi die results of a PAYT study conducted by
    researchers at  Duke University. The Duke study analyzed
    program statistics from 212 PAYT communities across the
    country and calculated die average amount of per capita
    waste reduction experienced by these communities.  EPA
    then calculated die per capita climate change impact of
    PAYT using this average PAYT waste reduction percentage
    and the greenhouse gas emission factors.
    EPA estimates that for each person participating in a PAYT
    program, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by an aver-
    age of 0.088 metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE, the
    basic unit of measure for greenhouse gases). This means that
    a community of 100,000 people could potentially reduce
    greenhouse gas emissions by 8,800 MTCE by implementing
    a PAYT program. This calculation is based on die assump-
    tion diat residents in PAYT communities recycle a mk of the
    most  common recyclable materials  (e.g., plastic bottles,
    newspapers, steel and aluminum cans).

Along with die more obvious recycling and waste prevention
impacts of PAYT, measuring its climate change benefits can
help describe a program's full environmental advantages to
elected  officials,  residents,  and odier stakeholders. Also,
waste reduction programs such as PAYT can play an integral
part in a community's climate change action plan. Here's
how you can calculate the potential climate change benefits
of your PAYT program:
                Use the National Average. If you wish to
                use die national average for greenhouse
                gas reductions, you can multiply the
number of program participants by 0.088 MTCE as illus-
trated in the example above. The resulting number is the
estimated average annual reduction in greenhouse gases for
your program.
                Use Local Data. If you wish to obtain an
                estimate tailored to your community's
                specific PAYT program, you can apply
your own data by using EPA's "WAste Reduction Model
(WARM). This easy-to-use spreadsheet applies  the same
greenhouse gas emission factors mentioned above to your
community's specific waste management situation.  Please
note that in order to use WARM, you will need to have data
on the amount of waste your community generated and
reduced  both before and after PAYT was implemented.
WARM  is available on EPA's Climate Change and Waste
Web site at-.
Should your community consider PAYT? If your communi-
ty's planners are looking for ways to get residents to put
more recyclables out at die curb and generate less trash, dien
the answer is probably yes. The additional climate change
benefits enjoyed by PAYT communities show diat it can be
an environmentally sustainable way to manage our nation's
solid waste.
Pay-as-you-throw gives individuals an incentive to generate
less trash and recycle more.