Photo Courtesy Town of Silver City


What is Pay-As-You-Throw?

Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT),also known as unit-based or variable pricing, is a system in which residents pay for each unit of waste discarded rather than paying a fixed fee or tax per household. As residents pay directly for waste they have a financial incentive to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Why Choose PAYT?

  • Are local landfills closing or near capacity?
  • Are budgets covering the true cost of waste?
  • Is there a budget shortfall?
  • Are recycling services convenient and available to all - or are improved systems needed?

Conservation to improve the environment will motivate some to change; Conservation to save money will motivate many to change!


NM Landfill Rate Analysis Report

NMRC Landfill Report 2012


How Would PAYT Work In Your Community?

It is imperative that communities considering PAYT make sure adequate and convenient recycling options are available.  Implementing PAYT provides an opportunity to expand recycling services and cover any new program costs by including them in the new rate structure. For instance, some options include: adding curbside collection, hazardous waste collection, or adding a swap shop to filter out reusable items that can go back into the reuse stream.

  • Curbside Programs: Municipalities that provide curbside trash services through automated or manual collection with municipal employees or contracted haulers can easily create a PAYT program using bags, tags, or containers (or a combination of all three).
  • Drop-off Programs with Multiple Private Haulers: Municipalities with drop-off programs that are monitored by attendants are ideal for an imprinted trash bag or tag program. Private residential haulers can also implement PAYT using bags, tags or containers. Compliance of haulers can be monitored at the landfill or transfer station.
  • Dumpster Programs: Group dumpsters are unique and should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

There Are Several Rate Structure Options For Your Community

Proportional Rate Structure incorporates all costs of the program, both fixed (administration, labor, equipment etc) and variable (cost of tipping and associated) and builds them into the rate structure.

  • Linear Rate Structures are financed using a one-to-one ratio of disposal units to cost. For instance: if one bag costs 1$ than two bags costs $2.  Or, if one 32-gallon container costs $10 per month, than a 64-gallon container would cost $20 per month and a 96-gallon $30 per month.
  • Variable Rate Structures offer different rates for different size containers or levels of service. For instance some programs may charge increasingly higher rates to penalize households that do not reduce trash or increasingly lower rates since the fixed costs per stop do not increase.

Two-tiered Rate Structures keep the fixed costs of the program in the tax or fee base and creates a unit-based cost to cover the variable expense.

  • Overflow/Modified Rate Structure would allow a certain amount of disposal within the current fee or tax structure and charge a second tier for additional disposal.

Solid Waste Collection Design Options

There are three varieties of PAYT collection designs. The systems are not mutually exclusive and can be combined to meet the community’s needs.

  1. Imprinted Trash Bags: Residents purchase special colored plastic bags imprinted with the name and seal of the municipality. The price of the bag covers the cost of the bag itself and all or part of the cost of waste collection transportation and disposal. In hauler programs waste haulers are instructed to pick up only specially marked bags. In drop-offs attendants only allow disposal of specially marked bags.
  2. Tags and Stickers: Residents purchase specially marked labels and affix them to their own trash bags. Different colored stickers or different quantities may be purchased according to the volume of waste being disposed.
  3. Containers: Residents choose a certain size container at a certain price level for curbside collection. Containers are billed through the municipality monthly, quarterly or annually.

Online Resources to Help You Re-Structure Your Rates for PAYT

There are many excellent web resources to help New Mexico communities discover how to use PAYT as a tool for successful solid waste management, but also for the initial planning process.

Use the EPA PAYT Bulletins to find communities that fit your profile

Use the EPA PAYT SMART BET Calculator to see how PAYT can affect your community

The state of Connecticut has a great website on PAYT and SMART planning. The web page provides community examples, collection type and contact information.

Sample Ordinances/Program Descriptions from PAYT Communities

See what other communities have implemented for Recycling Ordinances that successfully promote Pay-As-You-Throw systems.

Aspen, Colorado Curbside trash & recycling pick up. To read the full ordinance click here
Fort Collins, Colorado Curbside trash & recycling pick up. To read the full ordinance click here
Logan County, Ohio Rural drop-off recycling program.
Binghamton, New York Curbside trash & recycling pick up.

PAYT Webinar Presentations

Several presentations have been created targeting the New Mexico solid waste collection landscape.

  • PAYT Presentation at NM Recycling Training June 9, 2011 more
  • Curbside Solid Waste Collection PAYT Webinar Presentation more
  • Drop-off Solid Waste Collection PAYT Webinar Presentation more
  • Dumpster Solid Waste Collection PAYT Webinar Presentation more

Fact Sheets

  • PAYT General Fact Sheet more
  • Curbside PAYT Fact Sheet more
  • Drop-off PAYT Fact Sheet more
  • Dumpster PAYT Fact Sheet more