United States
 Environmental Protection
Policy, Planning and
Evaluation/Solid Waste
and Emergency Response
 Pay-As-You-Th row
 A  Cooling   Effect  on
 Climate  Change
   The atmosphere that surrounds Earth contains many types of gases, including what are
known as "greenhouse gases. " These gases absorb and retain heat from the sun. Without
greenhouse gases, the average temperature on Earth would be 5°F instead of the current
60°F. A buildup of these gases in the atmosphere, on the other hand, could raise global
temperatures, triggering profound changes in the Earth's climate and ecosystems.
   The manufacture and distribution of products and the subsequent management of
solid waste can contribute to the formation of greenhouse gases. For this reason as well
as for other environmental benefits, EPA  is encouraging waste reduction efforts. The
Pay-As-You-Throw Outreach Initiative is one EPA program helping to curb green-
house  gas emissions by  expanding waste  prevention  and recycling in communities
WHAT  \s

      Pay-as-you-throw programs break
      with tradition by ensuring that
      households see and feel die cost of
      waste disposal services. Under a tra-
ditional system, residents pay indirectly for
these services through their property taxes or
through a flat fee. With pay-as-you-throw,
residents  pay directly for trash services
based on die amount of waste they
throw away—similar to the way that
they pay for electricity, gas, and other
  When consumers  pay for every
bag or can of waste that they generate
for disposal, they are  motivated to recycle
more and to look for creative ways to pre-
vent waste in the first place. In communities
that implement  pay-as-you-throw  pro-
grams, overall waste disposal can decline by
25 to 45 percent on average. In addition,
recycling  rates often increase in diese com-
munities, sometimes  reaching double  or
even triple what they had been before the
program was implemented.
             Some  residents  in  pay-as-you-throw
           communities change their behavior in
           other significant ways. While shopping,
           these individuals are more likely to pur-
           chase items in bulk and to select products
           with  the least  amount of unnecessary
           packaging.  Rather  than  throw items
           away, a pay-as-you-throw household is
           likely to first look for ways to reuse these
           goods or to give them away. Rather than
           bag  yard trimmings and leaves,  house-
              holds might choose instead to com-
                post these materials in their back-
                    EPA is helping local govern-
                  ments and solid waste managers
                 foster waste reduction in their
               communities by encouraging them
           to consider pay-as-you-throw programs.
           Through educational efforts,  EPA is
           spreading the word about the many ben-
           efits of pay-as-you-throw programs. EPA
           also  is providing tools and expert advice
           on how to plan and implement a suc-
           cessful pay-as-you-throw  program  and
           how to overcome potential barriers.
  Printed on paper that contains at least 20 percent postconsumer fiber.

     How CAN  PAY-AS-YOU-
        he waste prevention  and  recycling efforts
        spawned by pay-as-you-throw programs can
        help curb greenhouse gas emissions in several
        significant ways:
• Diverting materials from disposal. Keeping organ-
ic wastes (like food scraps, yard trimmings, and paper
products) out of landfills reduces greenhouse gas emis-
sions that are released when these materials decompose
in a landfill. In addition, waste reduction diverts plastics
and other synthetic materials from  incinerators, reduc-
ing the greenhouse gas emissions that are created when
these materials burn.
•  Reducing the  harvest of trees. Any actions  that
reduce the  need or demand for manufacturing  new
paper  products help  curb greenhouse gas emissions.
When used paper is recycled into new paper products or
when less paper is used, fewer trees have to be cut down.
Trees take carbon  dioxide out of the atmosphere and
store it in wood.
      • Conserving raw materials and the energy
    ^ expended  to  retrieve,   transport,   and
    ,   process them. Making goods from recycled
                      materials  typically requires
                      less energy than using vir-
                      gin  materials.  More  effi-
                      cient production and use of
                      goods prevents  waste  and
                      requires  less energy. When
                      energy demand decreases,
                      fewer fossil fuels are burned
                     and  less carbon  dioxide  is
                      emitted.  Simply  put,  as
                     more  materials are recycled
                    and  waste  prevented,  less
       greenhouse gas is emitted into the atmosphere.
             or more
     y-As-You-Throw or
   ire information on cli-
mate change and waste
reduction, contact EPA's
RCRA Hotline at 800-424-

   In October 1993, the Climate Change Action Plan
   was initiated to strengthen our country's commit-
   ment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The plan
   outlines more than  50 voluntary initiatives designed
to reduce emissions of  these gases to  1990 levels by the
year 2000. EPA is responsible for encouraging attain-
ment of about half of the reductions under this plan.
  An old concept that is gaining fresh support, pay-as-
you-throw is already playing a vital role in helping EPA
achieve the goal outlined above. Close to 2,000 commu-
nities nationwide have already implemented pay-as-you-
throw programs, and numerous additional programs are
expected to start up each year as a result of EPA's educa-
tion efforts.  Pay-as-you-throw will to be a significant
contributor to EPA's overall Climate Change Action Plan
           iii  AfftfcTrW