A Lisfing of Pay-As-You-Throw News and Events
                                                  United States
                                                  Environmental Protection
                                                                                          WINTER 2003
                                                                  j   What's Inside
                                                                  1   • EU Promotes PAYT Technologies
                                                                  .   • PAYT Helps California City Recycling
                                                                  I     Rate Skyrocket
PAYT  Programs
Reduce Waste,
Reason Study
PAYT  Offer Hope for  New
    's  Recycling  Program?
         waste and recyclables collec-
     tion programs result in a 17 per-
     cent drop in garbage tonnage,
with a significant increase in both recy-
cling and source reduction, according
to a new study published by the Reason
Foundation, a Los Angeles-based public
policy think tank.
"Recycling programs only encourage
recycling," said Dr. Kenneth Green, the
study's project director and chief scien-
tist at the Reason Foundation. "Pay-As-
You-Throw programs encourage recy-
cling, composting, and source reduc-
tion—and source reduction is the
cheapest waste management strategy."
The study, released in July, is in a ques-
tion-and-answer format and addresses
the strengths and weaknesses of bag,
can, sticker, and hybrid variable-rates
programs; how these programs promote
source reduction and recycling; and
how to implement a PAYT program
The study found that variable-rate pric-
ing is the most effective way to involve
communities in source reduction and
recycling programs. Variable-rate pro-
grams currendy are available to approxi-
mately 20 percent of the country's pop-
ulation and exist in all but four states.
             Contimiedon next page
                                            New York City's
                                            recycling program is
                                            facing its biggest
                                            challenge to date.
         H n the city that never sleeps, waste production never
         I ends. More than 7.5 million people live in New
         • York City, and residents produce an average of
         14,000 tons of trash each day. According to action
         group NYC WasteLe$$, city residents dispose of
         enough paper bags each year to line the Brooklyn
         Bridge 170,000 times and enough plastic grocery bags
         to line the Lincoln Tunnel 80,000 times.
         With budget-related     	
         cutbacks putting New
         York City's recycling
         program in jeopardy,
         some observers have
         pointed out that
         PAYT could be a
         viable alternative or
         supplement to tax-funded trash collection, reducing the
         amount of waste that needs to be managed while
         potentially generating revenue. While waste manage-
         ment officials face implementation challenges associated
         with PAYT in a big city like New York, PAYT could be
         an important part of a longer-term solution.

         And New York City's recycling program is facing its
         biggest challenge to date. In 1993, New York initiated
         the largest citywide curbside recycling program in the
         United States, collecting mixed paper, plastics, metals,
         and glass from all of the city's 3 million households. In
         July 2002, however, as a result of a budget crisis, the
         Mayor and New York City Department of Sanitation
         (DOS) officials suspended plastics and glass recycling
         until they can be made more cost-effective.
         Steve Hammer, a waste management expert and
         founder of New York City-based Hammer
         Environmental Consulting, recommends that "As it
         evaluates recycling, the city should also consider a
                                    Continued on page 3
    Printed on paper that contains at least 50 percent postconsumer fiber.

 Europe  Promotes   PAYT  With   Innovative  Technologies
     PAYT programs have proven effec-
     tive in encouraging waste reduc-
     tion in more than 5,000 commu-
nities across the United States—and
they are becoming increasingly popular
across the ocean as well. Many
European Union countries, especially
Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, and
the Netherlands, are experimenting with
some version of PAYT.
Several major European cities have suc-
cessfully implemented programs charg-
ing residents for waste collection servic-
es based upon the volume or weight of
waste discarded. These initiatives have
encouraged people to think twice
before they toss and to find alternative
ways to dispose of waste, such as recy-
cling and composting. Other EU coun-
tries, such as Denmark, France, Ireland,
and Italy, are rapidly developing PAYT
programs, and the Czech Republic,
Spain, and Greece are showing increas-
ing interest in PAYT as well.
PAYT programs are one part of the
EU's overarching effort to support
innovative ways to progress socially,
economically, and technologically, while
preserving each country's culture and
protecting the environment. EU offi-
cials have set policy objectives to
increase awareness of each individuals
responsibility to help  reduce waste in its
efforts to promote sustainable develop-
"In the past, environmental protection
and social or cultural  development have
too often been treated as alternatives to
productivity and competitiveness," said
Phillippe Busquin, the European
Commissioner for Research. Now, driv-
en by the policy objective of sustainable
development, the EU is "finding inno-
vative, 'win-win' solutions," Busquin
added, which allow it to "meet social
aspirations and preserve cultural values
at a competitive cost, without damaging
the environment."
PAYT is one of these solutions. Waste
reduction is particularly important in
Europe's major cities, where nearly 80
percent of the population dwells. Just as
in the United States, tenants in multi-
unit residences in Europe discard their
waste in large, common bins. Keeping
track of how much each individual
throws away is difficult, and so the
incentive for tenants to reduce their
waste is not built in. EU cities are com-
ing up with innovative and successful
ideas to promote waste reduction prin-
ciples through PAYT that U.S. cities
could learn from.

Technology Promoting PAYT
A few German companies have devel-
oped sophisticated billing technologies
that keep track of the waste individuals
throw away. These technologies can
make implementing  a PAYT program
easier, by inspiring residents to take
individual responsibility when disposing
of waste.

Two German manufacturing compa-    ;
nies—The SULO Group, near
Hannover, and WESOMA GmbH, in  [
Zwickau—have devised special air-lock
waste containers that only tenants can
access, using a personal access card.
These containers harbor electronic data
carriers that automatically measure the
amount of waste thrown away by each
tenant, tracking the user, date, and time
waste was deposited.
Along with this sophisticated identifica-
tion and weighing equipment is equally
innovative software technology.
Germany's Envicomp Systems created
the Envicomp Modular System
(EMS)—domestic refuse software that  !
processes the data generated by the iden-
tification and weighing systems. This
software was specifically developed for
the billing between disposal companies
and municipalities. Allowing for fric-
tion-free processing for disposal and
administration processes, EMS provides
efficient bin management, exact registra-
tion of materials and their assignment by
cost center, optimized route planning,
targeted evaluations and statistics, and
integrated billing systems that include a
payment reminder function.
To read more about the EU's
use of innovative technology,
read an expanded article on
EPA's PAYT Web site, at

Continued from front page
According to the report, about 1.3 mil-
lion tons of waste is source-reduced
annually by variable-rate communities.
These results suggest that towns with
PAYT programs might see reductions in
tons disposed of around 16 percent,
divided equally among discarded materi-
als that are recycled, composted, or avoid-
ed entirely through source reduction.
In addition, illegal dumping—which
towns fear will increase if they start up a
variable-rates program—is not the large
problem it is often thought to be, the
study found. In fact, a study by
Skumatz Economic Research Associates
found that residential waste is not a
large component of illegally dumped
materials. The largest components of
illegally dumped materials are construc-
tion and demolition debris (25 percent)
and brush (nearly 40 percent).
Most of the residential waste that is ille-
gally dumped is bulky waste such as
mattresses, sofas, and large appliances.
Communities have implemented bulky
waste collection days to increase the suc-
cess of variable rates programs and min-
imize the incentives to illegally dump

City's  Recycling  Rate  Skyrockets,
Thanks  to  PAYT
A       PAYT program can drastically
       improve a city's recycling rate.
       The city of Diamond Bar,
California, saw its recycling rate jump
from 12 percent in 2000 to 47 percent
in 2001, after it began a PAYT program
in November 2000. The program also
helped the city decrease waste generation
by 4 percent, despite a population
increase, and, within 4 months of imple-
mentation, the city had a 50 percent
diversion rate in the residential sector.
A front loader collects trash and recyclables in
Diamond Bar.

Diamond Bar, located 30 miles east of
Los Angeles with a population of nearly
57,000, has reaped the rewards of
increased waste diversion, a cleaner
appearance, and public recognition of
its efforts. Among the more than 80
communities that make up Los Angeles
County, Diamond Bar is one of about a
dozen with a PAYT program.

Educating residents and providing
incentives for recycling were key to
Diamond Bar's success. The city wanted
not only to run a successful recycling
and waste diversion program, but also
wanted to change the waste disposal
habits of its residents, said Michael
Huls, the city's contract environmental
services coordinator. As a result, the city
made the residents the number-one pri-
ority in the planning and implements-  .'
tion process.               '          ;

Diamond Bar encouraged the use of
smaller waste containers by rewarding
residents for tJheir recycling efforts.  The
      city does not charge a cart
      exchange fee for residents who
      reduce the size of their carts, and
      residents who request only one
      cart do not have to pay the sur-
      charge imposed on residents who:
      request more than one cart.
      A driving force behind the city's
      PAYT program is integrating
      solid waste collection and recy-  :
      cling to create an effective, long- :
      lasting program that both city
      officials and the community will :
      embrace.                    . •
      According to Huls, the reaction
and feedback to the program from  both
businesses and residents has been posi-
tive. Although some residents eyed the
program with caution initially, "the
diversion rates and responses show  that
people are excited about the program,"
Huls said.
To read more about Diamo,
Bar's success story, read an
expanded article on EPA's
PAYT Web site, at

As far as whether the programs are diffi-
cult to administer, anecdotal evidence
from many towns indicated that in
most cases, after initial effort to educa-
tion customers about variable rates, the
programs are readily accepted. Cities
looking to implement PAYT programs
can learn a lot from the work other
cities have done, but they also must
address the specific concerns of their
own residents to be successful. Tailored
approaches for large families and low-
income customers help increase cus-
tomer acceptance of the program.
For a copy of the study, visit
, or call the
Reason Foundation at 310 391-2245.
Continued from front page

PAYT program as a natural comple-

New York City residents currently pay
for DOS to collect trash and recyclables
through their property tax, a flat indi-
rect charge that creates the perception
that waste collection is "free." City resi-
dents can put as much garbage as they
want on the curb for DOS to collect,
and some communities require the
department to provide hauling services
two or three times each week. Prior to
cutting back recycling services, New
York spent almost $ 1 billion per year on
trash and recyclables collection.

Implementing PAYT in New York City
could shift the cost of waste collection
directly to residents by requiring them
to pay based on how much trash they
throw away. Currently, more than 5,000
communities in the United States have
PAYT programs, and studies show that
these programs typically reduce waste
while saving municipal governments
money. Most of these communities,
however, are small, rural or suburban
cities and towns that can more easily
handle many of the administrative
requirements of a PAYT program.
Larger cities face certain challenges that
make PAYT more difficult to imple-
ment, including how to bill residents of
large multi-tenant buildings, how to
decide on collection methods and con-
tainer types, and how to avoid overbur-
dening low-income households. New
York City can learn from other large
cities' successes with PAYT.

When Many Act as One: The Multi-
Tenant Issue

Operating collection and payment sys-
tems in large apartment buildings is one
of the biggest issues New York City
would have to resolve to implement
PAYT. About 57 percent of the city's
residents live in large, multi-tenant
buildings (buildings with 10 units or
more) that usually have a centralized
trash collection point. Therefore, deter-
mining who is throwing away how
much and billing tenants appropriately
can be a difficult task.

According to Barbara Stevens, president

              Continued on backpage

    Continued from page 3
    of Ecodata, Inc. consulting group, most
    high-rise buildings in New York City
    have garbage shoots where residents
    dump bags of trash. These individual
    bags are bundled up into larger bags by
    the superintendent and carted to the
    "Throwing away garbage in multi-ten-
    ant buildings is entirely anonymous,"
    she said. "A PAYT program would be
    very difficult to enforce."
    The Container Quandary: Cans,
    Bags, or Tags
    Deciding on what type of container to
    use to collect trash also poses issues in
    large cities like New York. The usual
    pros and cons surrounding the use of
    cans, bags, or tags/stickers would all
    apply, including problems with pest and
    odor control, accessibility from crowded
    streets, durability, and theft.
    Money Matters: Billing and Rate
    New York City would have to carefully
    consider options for billing and rate set-
    ting based on the type of collection con-
    tainer it chooses and the amount of rev-
    enue it wants to earn from the program.
    Billing enforcement also  would be an
    issue, as the city could not refuse to col-
    lect trash if tenants didn't pay, because
    of health concerns.
    To address this issue, some cities tie
    trash bills to  other municipal utility
    bills. In Seattle, Washington, for exam-

pie, water and trash collection charges
appear on the same bill, and if residents
pay their water bill but not their trash
bill, the money is applied to the trash
bill, and water can eventually be cut off
for non-payment.

On the Right Track: Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping is one issue that New
York might be able to handle more
readily than other PAYT cities.
Preliminary studies suggest that fears of
increased illegal dumping caused by
PAYT are unwarranted.  New York City,
however, already has an  advantage in
combating illegal dumping if it  does
become a problem—DOS has an
enforcement unit of 173 uniformed
workers that makes sure residents
adhere to waste collection rules. The
department also has experience con-
ducting public education campaigns,
which could be used to help the public
accept PAYT regulations.
Overcoming Obstacles

Stevens believes PAYT could work if the
city offered the program to residential
buildings only and defined residential
multi-tenant buildings as those with six
or fewer units.

According to Hammer, all the issues
with PAYT in New York City can be
resolved if officials are willing to spend
time and resources up front to develop
and implement a program. He believes
the city's biggest  hurdle at this point is
to find a way to re-establish the full
recycling program—PAYT will not
work if residents don't have legal alter-
natives to throwing away waste.

"Everything is harder in New York,"
Hammer said. "Anything you do will be •
harder here than in other cities, but
PAYT can work if the mayor and DOS
are willing to think outside of conven-
tional management practices."
To read more about New York City's recycling program, read an
expanded article on EPA's Web site, at 
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