Frequent Questions

My community just started to charge residents based on the amount of garbage they throw away. Why is this necessary? What are the benefits of Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) programs?

Traditionally, residents pay for waste collection and disposal through property taxes or a fixed fee, regardless of how much—or how little—trash they generate. Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) programs break with tradition by treating trash services just like electricity, gas, and other utilities. Households pay a variable rate depending on the amount of garbage they throw away. More than 5,000 communities across the United States have a PAYT program in place. In most of these programs, residents are charged a fee for each bag or can of waste they generate. The less individuals throw away, the less they pay. 

EPA supports this approach to solid waste management for three main reasons: 

Environmental sustainability. 
Communities with programs in place have reported significant increases in recycling and reductions in waste, due primarily to the cost incentive created by PAYT. Less waste and more recycling mean that fewer natural resources need to be extracted. 

Economic sustainability. 
PAYT is an effective tool for communities struggling to cope with soaring MSW management expenses. Well designed programs help communities generate the revenues they need to cover their solid waste management costs, including the costs of recycling and composting programs. Residents benefit, too, because they have the opportunity to take control of their trash bills. 

When the cost of managing trash is hidden in taxes or charged at a flat rate, residents who recycle and prevent waste subsidize their neighbors' wastefulness. Under PAYT, residents pay only for what they throw away. For more information, visit EPA's PAYT Web site.

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