United States
                         Environmental Protection
                               Solid Waste and
                               Emergency Response
                               (5306W)   ,
Winter 2000
A Listing of Pay-As-You-Throw News and Events
                          B      U       L
                                               I      N
                         PAYT  From  Sea  to  Shining  Sea

                            i rom the Pacific Northwest to the heart of the South and up the East Coast, PAYT is
                            : thriving. This issue of the Bulletin chronicles the rate setting activities of Portland,
                           ~j Oregon, and the implementation process in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. It also
                        provides a glimpse of the brand new program in Portland, Maine.

                                 Sweet Success  in the  City of Roses
                                     Implementation of PAYT in Pordand, Oregon, came with the city's founding.
                                       That does not mean, however, the city does not still strive to improve its pro-
                                        gram. In 1992, with the regulation of the residential waste industry, the city
                                         had to streamline how solid waste was collected. Portland took a free-market
                                         system that worked and made it better  the haulers were franchised, the
                                          city began setting collection rates, and now everything's coming up roses.

                                         Setting an Equitable Rate
                                                   had ^unique advantage when it comes to ^operating an equi-
                                       table waste collection system  since the city's founding, privately owned
                                     waste haulers have always charged variable rates to Portland's residents. Because
                                   the franchise system took away the residents' ability to choose their waste collec-
                               tion provider, Lee Barrett of the Solid Waste and Recycling Division believes the city
                         "[has] an obligation to watch the costs for them." The division, therefore, sets the rates
                        charged by the franchise to customers. Portlands 500,000 residents still pay a variable fee
                        according to the size of can they set out; each resident pays a flat rate for yard trimmings col-
                        lection and recycling. "Politically,  [a variable rate] program can be difficult, and Portland was
                        lucky to not have that problem," acknowledges Barrett.
                           Each year, Portland conducts a rate review that takes into account all the variables that
                        affect waste  collection  costs, such as tipping fees, labor contracts, and fuel prices. The division
                        uses a part-time economist to help calculate the rates. Every year staff weigh containers from
                        clusters of 110 representative households and calculate the average of those weights. Average
                        weights are calculated in this manner for each of the six container sizes available to residents.
                        Staff also randomly select 20 of the 43 haulers for an audit of their financial records to deter-
                        mine their "true costs" for residential collection. The true costs and the average weights are
 Printed on paper that contains at least 30 percent posiconsumer fiber.
                                                                                           (continued on page 2)

 then used to determine the rates. The Division of Solid
 Waste tries to set the rates so that the haulers have the
 opportunity to make a 9.5 percent profit, although the
 division does not guarantee this. "We spend a good 2 to 3
 months a year on our rate-setting process in order to
 make it fair not just to the rate payer, but also to the ser-
 vice provider," says Barrett.
     Residents have a choice of weekly collection using con-
 tainers ranging from a 20-gallon minican to a 90-gallon
 roll cart or monthly collection of one 32-gallon can. Most
 residents select weekly collection of a 32-gallon can. There
 is a disincentive charge,  typically $2 to $3, for the 90-gal-
 lon roll cart to encourage residents to use smaller contain-
 ers. In addition, residents are given a recycling rebate
 based on the sale of recyclables. For fiscal year (FY) 2000,
 residents will get a weekly $0.15 credit on their bill.
     Each franchise bills their own customers and pays a
 franchise fee to the city, which entirely supports the bud-
 get of the Solid Waste and Recycling Division. The fran-
 chise fee covers the budget of the residential program,
 while the commercial program is paid through a commer-
 cial tonnage fee. The division has the authority to charge
 up to 5 percent of the disposal portion of haulers' costs,
 which it did in the first year of the program. The division
 found this money more than covered their needs, so it has
 since adjusted the fee to 3.5 percent.
   Although the rates in the franchise system are based on
the average weights of containers, residents perceive the
rate as being set by the size of the container. One of the
major difficulties has been when residents overload their
containers and become frustrated when the containers are
not picked up by the hauler because of the excessive
weight. Education and repeated communication on the
part of the Solid Waste and Recycling Division have been
key strategies to inform, customers that the weight drives
the rate. The division p eriodically sends information
about the system and any changes in collection service to
customers; it also posts information about the waste
collection program, ways to reduce waste, and materials
that can be recycled on its Web site at

Portland's Progress
   Evidence shows that, on average, residents are reducing
the amount of waste they produce. In FY 1995, for exam-
ple, a typical resident's 20-gallon minican weighed an
average of 15.90 pounds and in FY 1998, the 20-gallon
minican weighed an average of 13.63 pounds. Overall,
solid waste collected per household per year has decreased
by 273 pounds between 1991 and 1998, while collection
of recyclables has increased by 437 pounds per household
per year. In 1996, the American Forest and Paper
Association recognized Pordand's curbside paper recycling
program as the best in the nation among cities with more
than 100,000 residents. "It works," concludes Barrett. "It
might sting a litde...but if a city wants to reduce the
amount of waste disposed of, showing residents the corre-
lation between waste generation and cost works. I don't
know of any case where die amount of material disposed
of went up."
     The  Other  Portland
        Ensuring diat its namesake in the northwest isn't
     the only Portland with PAYT, Portland, Maine (popula-
     tion 64,000), started its program in July 1999.
     Portland uses a proportional system hi which residents
     purchase bags for $0.68 each. Before PAYT, the city did
     not have curbside recycling and its recycling rate was
     7 percent. Increasing that rate was the impetus for
     switching to unit pricing, and the city has not been dis-
     appointed. Pordand has seen its recycling rate jump to
     35 percent and its total waste tonnage decrease by
     80 to  100 tons per week. The city established a hodine
     3 months prior to implementation to answer questions
     and explain die program. "Compliance has been
fantastic. Even those residents who
were initially opposed
became proponents      :/  .Ji~
once they understood    ~^..^_-
how it worked," reports
Troy Moon, commercial
waste program administrator.
For more information
on Pordand's
program, contact        "
Moon at
207 874-8801.
2 PAY T  B uIUl h

Athens-Clarke County-
A Southern Perspective
       thens, Georgia, is equal parts
       bustling college town and charm-
      king city of the old South. But
don't mistake Athens for a city behind
the times. In 1990, the city of Athens and
the county of Clarke merged to form the
unified government of Athens-Clarke
County. Then, in 1994, shortly after moving
from a tax-based fee to a flat rate for solid waste
collection, the County Commission voted to imple-
ment a municipal PAYT program to encourage recycling
and extend the life of its landfill.
   The County Commission decided to implement PAYT
only in the old city limits of Athens (population 40,000).
The commission switched to PAYT to provide an econofnic
incentive for residents to recycle more. At the time, the city
was in the process of building a materials recovery facility
(MRF), which opened in 1995, and the commission
wanted to ensure that the MRF would have a steady stream
of recyclables to process.

How Does It Work?
   Under the variable-rate system, Athens-Clarke offers
collection service ranging from one 20-gallon can to five
32-gallon cans per week. (See box for service rates.) Most
residents of Athens-Clarke have signed up for two 32-gal-
lon cans.  For overflow, residents can purchase stickers for
$2 to affix to their bags.
    Athens-Clarke Rate Structure"
                                  Monthly Fee

1 20-gallon can
1 32-gallon can
2 32-gallon cans
3 32-gallon cans
4 32-gallon cans
5 32-gallon cans
 The rates are based on one pickup per week and are billed
 on a monthly basis.                             ;
   At the same time it instituted the residential PAYT pro-
gram, the commission also started a PAYT program in the
downtown business district of Athens. In the commercial
curbside program, downtown businesses use special trash
bags that cost $1 each and can be purchased at three differ-
ent municipal offices downtown. The cost of the bag pays
for the cost of waste disposal. In addition to purchasing the
bags, businesses pay a fixed monthly fee based on their col-
lection frequency. Pickup schedules range from two times a
week ($15 per month) to three times a day and twice on
Sundays ($154 per month).
              Making ft Happen

                   "You can't have enough education,"
                 instructs Jim Corley, director of solid
                 waste at the Athens-Clarke Solid Waste
                 Department. For a full year before
                 implementation, the Commission publi-
                 cized the upcoming change to PAYT.
                From newspaper inserts and articles to
               formation of a citizens' advisory group to
             meetings with haulers to speeches to civic
           groups, the city left no stone unturned hi get-
        ting the word out about PAYT.
   Athens-Clarke has learned that education about PAYT
 must be ongoing, in large part due to the high turnover of
 university students. University of Georgia students make up
 30 percent of Athens' population. Every year, the Solid
 Waste Department subscribes approximately 4,800 new
 households at the beginning of the school year and after the
 holiday break. Two years into the program, the county
 hired a customer service officer to help with public educa-
 tion. In addition to a quarterly newsletter and providing
 tours to university classes, the Solid Waste Department
 publishes and distributes a resource guide at the beginning
 of the school year. The guide lists materials that can be
 recycled, hours of pickup, location of drop-off centers, and
 customer service hours of operation.
    While relatively smooth, the switch to unit pricing was
 not complaint free. Before unification of Athens-Clarke
 County, residents paid for solid waste collection through
 the property tax.  In 1992, the Commission began charging
 a flat fee for solid waste as part of the water bill. In the
 minds of many longtime residents, however, garbage collec-
 tion had been "free" in the past and they didn't understand
 why there must be a charge for it now. Since this transition
 took time for some residents, Corley suggests hiring a com-
 pliance officer at the beginning of the program. "We didn't
 have amy problems with illegal dumping, but we did have
 some people that refused to comply with the new program.
 It would have been easier if there had been someone dedi-
 cated to those issues from the start." Athens-Clarke hired a
 compliance officer 2 years after the inception of PAYT. The
 officer is in charge of notifying the offender of the compli-
 ance issue and educating them oh what they need to  do to
 comply in the future. If after three notifications the offend-
 er still does not comply, the matter is sent to the County
 Marshall for citation.
   Educating residents was just one part of the PAYT cur-
 riculum for Athens-Clarke County. Instituting PAYT also
 meant the city's collection crews had to adjust to a new way
 of operating. Rather than picking up all set-outs, die  crews
 had to learn to leave and report unauthorized cans and bags
 to the Solid Waste Department so that it could follow up
with the resident.

                                     (continued on page 4)
                                                                                                PAYT B u I I e tin  3

 (continued from page 3)

PAYT Does the Job

   The recycling rate in Athens-Clarke has increased
every year since the beginning of PAYT. In FY 1996, the
county collected an average of 557 tons of recyclables per
month. In FY 1999, that number increased by 246
percent to 880 tons per month. In addition, the county
was able to reduce its garbage truck fleet by two vehicles
and consequently decrease its collection costs.
   For more information on Athens-Clarke County's
PAYT program, contact Jim Corley at 706 613-3501,
extension 305.
Everything You Ever Wanted
to Know About PAYT
   With a simple click of your mouse or quick toll-free
call, you can be the proud new owner of the PAYT
resource of your choice. Order the booklet on rate
structure design, the video-on the nuts and bolts of PAYT,
a. scries of success stories, or the how-to guidebook. Every
one of these items is available to you at no cost simply by
calling the PAYT Helpline at 800 EPA-PAYT or
visiting the PAYT Web site at
Stay Tuned for More
on  PAYT
   More than 150 community
access cable channels across the
country are scheduled to, air the PAYT video,
Pay-As-You-Throw: A NewJrend in Sustainable Solid/Waste _
Management. Check with your local channel to find out
when PAYT will be on your airwaves.
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