USA Research: PAYT Paves Way To Zero Waste

Pay As You Throw “Clip Art” from the U.S. EPA Archives, circa 1990s. Photo Source:

Pay As You Throw (PAYT), a proven global waste metering system, is the vital first step to reaching Zero Waste. PAYT, or unit-based pricing, is the single most effective way to educate and motivate residents to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. After all, what is the difference between unit-based pricing for electricity, water and/or natural gas in our households and doing the same for garbage?

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) gathered data through detailed research and interviews conducted May-July 2017, which shows that unit-based pricing or PAYT waste metering systems dramatically reduce waste disposal. Consider the following:
• Per capita waste generation in the household sector in PAYT cities is close to half that of non-PAYT cities. In 2015, 43 percent of Massachusetts municipalities operated PAYT programs, according to an article in Commonwealth Magazine, and the non-PAYT municipalities threw away 55 percent more residential waste per capita than the PAYT municipalities.

• PAYT programs are a boost to backyard and community scale composting which reduces the volume of material landfilled or incinerated and puts valuable nutrients back into the soil. Further, for every 10,000 households composting at home, between 1,400 and 5,000 tons/year could be diverted from curbside collection with potential savings in avoided disposal costs alone ranging from $72,000 to $250,000 (Platt and Fagundes, 2018).

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