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PAYT Bulletin: Fall 1999

The PAYT Bulletin is designed to help solid waste planners and others get the latest pay-as-you-throw news and events. Use the links below to read articles from the Fall 1999 issue. To review other issues of the Bulletin, use the links on the right side of this page.

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The Increasing Global Trend Toward PAYT

Around the world, participation in PAYT has increased. Municipal solid waste (MSW) managers are focusing on both the environmental and economic sustainability of their MSW programs. Currently, PAYT is being considered by larger U.S. cities from coast to coast. The lead article discusses this big city trend and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistance available to them.

The popularity of PAYT is not just an American phenomenon. In countries as diverse as China, Israel, and Brazil, interest in PAYT is gaining momentum. Beginning on page 2 of this Bulletin, we detail a PAYT program of one of our northern neighbors and also glance at a program from "down under."

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Big Cities Explore PAYT

PAYT encourages waste prevention and recycling, which in turn leads to increased global climate change benefits (see "Climate Change, PAYT, and You" in the summer 1999 issue). Communities with large populations can contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by instituting a PAYT program. Large cities, however, often face complex challenges when designing and implementing a PAYT program, from accommodating multi-family buildings to educating non-English speakers to financing the program without straining overburdened city services. To help large cities address these concerns, EPA recently cosponsored a workshop with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Image of a big townTen cities attended the hands-on workshop held in May in Chicago, Illinois, including New York City, New York; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Ann Arbor, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Miami Beach, Florida. The workshop began with a presentation of the key issues and steps involved in implementing a successful PAYT program by PAYT technical experts from Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; and Austin, Texas. Later in the workshop, participants were given the option of attending an in-depth session on how to set PAYT rates. Attendees found the workshop to be informative and helpful. "Talking with representatives from other PAYT cities was helpful in gaining insight into the logistics and potential barriers of implementing a PAYT program," said Lisa Maack, a program manager with the City of New Orleans Department of Sanitation.

To maintain the momentum gained at the Chicago workshop, ICMA is providing followup technical assistance to big cities serious about implementing a PAYT program. Of the cities in attendance, three are beginning work to implement PAYT programs. Officials from one of these cities, New Orleans, Louisiana, believe PAYT is the key to improving their curbside recycling program.

Even though New Orleans' curbside recycling program enjoys a 50 percent participation rate, city officials would like to see the program increase its recycling tonnage rate and economic viability. The approximately 150,000 households in the program currently pay for garbage and recycling services through a flat fee on their monthly water bill. The mayor of the city is interested in learning more about how PAYT would work in New Orleans, including addressing concerns about illegal dumping. To explore both PAYT and improvements to the curbside recycling program, the city set up a task force comprised of community groups. As part of the technical assistance provided by ICMA, the task force and city council will receive one-on-one guidance about PAYT tailored to the city's specific needs.

As New Orleans progresses in its efforts to bring PAYT to the city, EPA will follow the process to garner tips and solutions for the benefit of other big cities. Stay tuned!

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Crossing Borders- PAYT Success in Canada

billboardWhile PAYT programs continue to gain momentum in the United States, our northern neighbors also have started reaping the program's environmental and economic benefits, spreading the unit-pricing word from Quebec to British Columbia. One community in particular, St. Albert, Alberta, has a well-established, successful "user pay" waste collection program. St. Albert's experience in designing, implementing, and maintaining their program offers a glimpse of PAYT on the international stage, revealing unique regional features as well as the challenges and rewards familiar to any PAYT community.

St Albert - Text VersionResting on the banks of the Sturgeon River and bordering the sprawling metropolis of Edmonton, Alberta, St. Albert was the first city in western Canada to implement a full PAYT system. While many communities face the challenge of gaining residents' support for a unit-pricing system, St. Albert's residents provided the impetus for the change, with 64 percent voicing support for a PAYT system before it was even implemented. Under their previous system, residents began to cite the inequity of a situation where someone who sets out 1 can of refuse pays as much as someone who sets out 10 cans.

Capitalizing on this enthusiasm for reform, the city experimented with two pilot programs designed to assess public satisfaction with different containers and collection systems. St. Albert modeled its program on several different cities, including Victoria, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington; program developers also relied on EPA's rate structure tools and materials during this development stage. Based on the success of these two pilots-residents disposed of 20 percent less waste and diverted 10 times more yard trimmings-St. Albert moved all waste management costs (including collection and transportation) from the tax base to the utility bill and fully implemented a PAYT program.

Aside from waste reduction potential, the city gleaned other important feedback from the pilot projects, learning that while half of the residents preferred bags, the other half wanted to use cans. To accommodate these preferences, St. Albert set up a bag and can program, allowing residents to choose their preferred containers. Whether choosing bags or cans, all residents select from three subscription volumes: one, two, or three cans (or bag equivalents) and paying the corresponding rate on their utility bills. If they exceed their limit, they must buy a $1.50 sticker for every additional bag or can they set out.

Although most of St. Albert's residents welcomed the PAYT program, a change is still a change, and the city faced the familiar challenge of publicizing and promoting its new system. Outreach brochures and pamphlets were dispersed, but City Engineer Dwayne Kalynchuk describes the city's most effective educational device as unusually entertaining. "We had a local children's theater group perform a skit, set to rap music, about the PAYT program and its benefits. They even used garbage cans as instruments, touring schools and malls and generating a lot of public and media interest. It was really something different, a neat way to capture everyone's attention."

payt_eventClearly, these innovative outreach strategies paid off. In the 3 years since St. Albert's PAYT program took off, the city's overall garbage disposal rate has dropped by more than 40 percent, already nearing the 50 percent reduction goal by 2000 set by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). The program also has been voted the Outstanding Municipal Program by the Recycling Council of Alberta and has been featured in numerous publications.

With its impressive achievements, it's hard to imagine that St. Albert faced many obstacles in its PAYT implementation, but in actuality, Kalynchuk noted that one of the program's problems was, in fact, its overwhelming success. "The program created such a reduction in waste that its revenues fell short in the first year and we had trouble covering the cost of collection. We had to raise fees and that was not well received. It's really important to be conservative on rate estimates, making careful predictions of your diversion rates." Kalynchuk also mentioned that challenges continue to arise in the maintenance of the program. "A continuing education program would help reinforce the messages and methods that our initial outreach efforts emphasized. In addition, consistent enforcement of program collection rules is essential to keeping all residents in step with the system."

For more information on St. Albert's PAYT program, contact Dwayne Kalynchuk (dkalynchuk@st-albert.net) at 780 459-1653.

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PAYT Down Under

Map of AustraliaIn other international PAYT news, the Hunter Waste Planning and Management Board of New South Wales, Australia, recently released two research reports recommending the institution of a variable rate system. The first report focuses on investigating and reviewing existing PAYT programs and assesses the different pricing systems. The second report covers implementation strategies that could be employed for each of the pricing systems. The Board has begun discussing the variable rate system with elected officials, and implementation will begin thereafter.

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PAYT Continues to Grow

Approximately 4,030 communities currently employ unit-based pricing, according to the latest report from Duke University. This represents a 16 percent increase in the number of PAYT communities since Duke began reporting this information in 1997. Duke gathers this data by contacting municipal, county, and state-level solid waste and recycling administrators, as well as private haulers. For a complete list of these communities, log on to the PAYT Web site at www.epa.gov/payt/comm-2.htm.

Check It Out

computerThe EPA PAYT Web site keeps getting bigger and better. Just added to the site are two clips from the new PAYT video, Pay-As-You-Throw: A New Trend in Sustainable Solid Waste Management. They can be viewed at www.epa.gov/payt/tools/clips.htm using either AVI or RealPlayer. After viewing the clips, use the online video order form on the same page to obtain your copy of the video.


cableAttention Cable Directors!

Do your community a great service and broadcast the PAYT video, Pay-As-You-Throw: A New Trend in Sustainable Solid Waste Management on your local cable station. The first part of the video provides a general introduction to PAYT for residents and others who may be unfamiliar with this type of program. The second part provides more detailed information on key design and operational issues surrounding PAYT.

Pay-As-You-Throw videoObtaining and showing this video is very easy. EPA has established a lending library for community access and municipal stations. If you are interested in airing part or all of this video on your channel, EPA will loan you a copy of the tape in the format of your choice for you to dub and play as often as you like. There is no charge to participate, except the cost of tape stock! To obtain an order form and/or more information, call the PAYT Helpline at 888 EPA-PAYT.

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