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PAYT Bulletin: Summer 2002

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 Summer 2002 issue. To review other issues of the Bulletin, use the links on the right side of this page.

Other Issues

PAYT Helps Cities Protect Climate

Most city officials know that the beneficial increases in recycling and composting from their PAYT programs help relieve the burden on landfills and lessen the demand for raw materials to manufacture new products. What many may not yet know, however, is that PAYT also can have an even more important environmental benefit—namely reducing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that contribute to global climate change. By encouraging waste prevention and recycling, PAYT programs help reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacture, distribution, use, and subsequent disposal of products.

By providing a monetary incentive for households and businesses to recycle more and dispose of less materials, PAYT programs help cities reduce their impact on the climate in three important ways:

trash can artThe good news is, the PAYT/Climate Change connection is gaining increased recognition, thanks to pioneering cities all across the country. More than 100 cities and counties in the United States are demonstrating that reducing global climate change requires local solutions like PAYT, by participating in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives' (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign. Cities participating in the CCP Campaign commit to developing and implementing a greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan that covers all local activities that contribute to the production of climate-warming gases.

In 2000, cities participating in the CCP Campaign prevented 7 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Cities participating in the CCP program, including San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; and Austin, Texas, all have reaped ancillary climate protection benefits from their PAYT programs and expect continued or increased benefits in the future. Highlights of these cities' programs follow:

For information on joining the CCP Campaign, contact Abby Young, director of the U.S. CCP Campaign, at ICLEI at 510 540-8843.

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Using PAYT To Educate All Groups of Citizens

Learning From Penn Township's Success
girl carrying recycling bin to the curb

Girl Carrying Recycling Bin to the Curb

Communities with successful PAYT programs rely on a strong educational campaign to captivate and mobilize residents into participation. Sometimes, this education occurs through the local schools or municipal agency campaigns. In other cases, one enthusiastic champion can make all the difference.

The residents of Penn Township in central Pennsylvania have their own unique environmental hero—a Garbage Guardian. Gene Hejmanowski, the environmental director for the township's municipal center and a strong supporter of PAYT programs, first introduced PAYT to the township in the early 1990s. A decade later, thanks to his dedication and hard work, residents have diverted garbage going to local landfills, from 3,900 tons in 1990 to 2,600 tons in 2000. This substantial decrease occurred despite a 30 percent growth in population and earned the township thousands of dollars in state grant money.

Penn Township is a small community of about 14,500 people, but it has made significant PAYT accomplishments and can serve as a model for communities of all sizes looking to start or expand a PAYT program. According to Hejmanowski, the inherent fairness of PAYT will benefit any city or town.

"I support PAYT because I believe that garbage should be treated as a utility—you pay for what you use," he said. "It's the only way to be fair and equitable to the people."

Getting the buy-in from local leaders is crucial to a successful PAYT program. Before he could introduce PAYT to Penn Township residents, Hejmanowski had to persuade local elected officials to stand behind the program. He knew that gathering the support of local leaders would be a crucial first step to building a successful program, because leaders could help incorporate PAYT into local law and promote it to their constituents.

To convince officials of the program's benefits, Hejmanowski surveyed the trash composition in several different regions of the township and recorded each area's demographics, how many trash cans each household used, and the type and amount of recyclable materials each household threw away. He presented his findings to local officials, telling them that if they wanted to help the environment, they needed to provide people with some incentive to keep recyclables out of their garbage bags.

Once he had the local government's support, Hejmanowski worked with officials to develop and implement PAYT. The program requires residents to purchase customized garbage bags and imposes a weight limit on each bag. Three months before the official start of the program, Hejmanowski began a concentrated public education campaign to engage residents. He held a series of town meetings and spoke at school assemblies and PTA meetings. A local radio station also invited him to host several editions of its daily hour-long call-in show on community issues.

Ongoing Educational Efforts
When the program started, Hejmanowski began conducting long-term education and enforcement efforts in the community. Currently, he circulates a PAYT newsletter in the spring, summer, and fall, and runs recycling education programs for schools, senior citizens, and new residents. He also surveys the garbage composition in selected residential districts each year between April and October and leaves door hanger messages to inform people if they have problems or to congratulate them for compliance.

"The door hangers often serve more for education than enforcement because a lot of people don't realize that you can recycle certain items," Hejmanowski said. "They are grateful for being informed."

To help residents increase their diversion rate, the township collects yard trimmings for composting, runs a recycling drop-off center, and holds free collection drives for holiday wrapping paper, textiles, and bulky items. Through enforcement and without additional taxes on the citizens, the PAYT program generates enough money to cover the costs of the program by selling PAYT bags and marketing the collected recyclable materials. All other costs are covered by a township recycling fund furnished by state grants awarded to local governments that can prove they divert a significant amount of garbage from landfills.

According to Hejmanowski, education also is the key component to deterring illegal dumping. He regularly surveys rural areas of the township and works to identify the culprit if he finds an illegally dumped garbage bag. He also uses the newsletter and public presentations to educate residents about the costs of illegal dumping.

"The success of your program depends on two things: a good initial presentation and continued education at all levels of the community," Hejmanowski said. "You also have to teach people that although everyone might not benefit initially, in the long run, PAYT is best for the majority of the township."

For more information on Penn Township's PAYT program, or for ideas on how to promote PAYT in your community, contact Gene Hejmanowski at 717 637-1561, or by e-mail at recycle@supernet.com.

Educational Tools Working Best for Communities

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Dubuque Brings the Whole Community Together through PAYT

trash cans in different sizes

Container Options for Dubuque's PAYT Program

Getting the public involved from the start is key to running a successful PAYT program. So when the city of Dubuque, Iowa, decided to roll out a variable-rate pricing program for residential discards, city officials took to the streets to talk to residents about what would make it easiest for them to recycle. The city used the residents' input to develop container options and other features for the PAYT program it is launching this fall.

More than a year before the program was to begin, the city conducted an extensive telephone survey so residents, landlords, and businesses could talk about the facets they'd like to see in the program. "We wanted community buy-in to make this program work," said Paul Schultz, Dubuque's solid waste management supervisor. "We wanted them to understand the benefits and options of unit-based pricing before we launched our own program." Other outreach and educational efforts during the planning phase included four television interviews and six radio talk shows.

The city's careful attention to residents' needs helped encourage public support. "The more we recycle, the better—and I've learned that PAYT is a good way to get more people to recycle," said Dubuque resident Paul Newman, who has participated in the city's recycling program for nearly 20 years.

The city also benefitted from experts' opinion when determining key characteristics of the program. The PAYT workshop held by EPA and attended by community officials in October 2001 (see Winter 2002 PAYT Bulletin) helped the city evaluate a wide variety of container options. Some residents were concerned about animals breaking through bags and scattering garbage in the streets, while others were worried about heavy winds blowing cans and lids down the street, or the area's frequent snowfall that makes it difficult to maneuver large containers. At the workshop, attendees discussed the pros and cons of each container option, reviewing the cost and convenience of each method. In addition, city officials learned about and used the RateMakerTM software program, which helps cities develop a variety of subscription options.

Dubuque offers its residents a wide range of container and fee options, including a standard monthly fee of $7.20 per month for a single 35-gallon container. An additional 35-gallon container costs $4.33 more per month, and 50-gallon wheeled carts for holding 3 trash bags for manual unloading cost $9 per month. In a pilot project for businesses and multiplexes, cart tippers for 65-gallon and 95-gallon containers cost $17 and $25 per month, respectively.

Challenge: Illegal Dumping
Dubuque also developed a strong educational campaign on illegal dumping through its Interdepartmental Garbage Task Force, which includes representatives from the police; the city's Housing, Planning, Operations & Maintenance division; and the Health Services department. Task force representatives all have access to a database that lets them track locations where illegal dumping and other garbage problems occur. The city is working with local police to refine options to enforce and expand illegal dumping laws, which will be enacted in September, when the program is running.

The city's main goal, however, "is to give people disposal options so they don't turn to illegal dumping," Schultz said. Expanding its "bulky item" pickup to a year-round program and reducing the cost is one way Dubuque hopes to reduce instances of illegal dumping.

More Information
For more information on how your city can use the RateMakerTM software to set up a PAYT program, contact John Gibson at 206 264-1958, or by e-mail at johnamygibson@msn.com.

Under the program, residents can now set out bulky items and excessive items—up to the equivalent of 30 bags of garbage—for a minimum charge of $8. For large appliances, such as an oven, the program charges $10 for the first appliance, and $9 for each additional appliance. The city also has a location where residents can drop off household hazardous waste and is publishing a Garbage Guide listing local opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle, and repair a variety of household discards.

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Thanks to PAYT, San Jose Increases C&D Debris Diversion

The city of San Jose awarded a $200,000 grant to carpet recycler Material Recovery LLC, one of the city's certified facilities. This facility recovers more than 50 percent of the 10,000 tons of carpet disposed of annually in the city.

While traditional PAYT programs focus on increasing recycling of residential discards, an innovative PAYT program in San Jose, California, has gone beyond household garbage to target construction and demolition (C&D) debris. Through one program, the largest U.S. city with a PAYT program has built a local market for C&D debris recycling technologies, while helping the city meet the state's 50 percent landfill diversion mandate.

The Construction & Demolition Diversion Deposit Program (CDDD) started in 1998, after the city of San Jose found that C&D debris made up 31 percent of waste sent to area landfills—the largest single material going to landfills. City staff and consultants estimated that the city landfilled nearly 160,000 tons of C&D waste annually but that 50 to 70 percent of this waste could be recovered. The city used EPA's report, Characterization of Building-Related Construction and Demolition Debris in the United States, in developing its approach. "Without the EPA report, we would have wasted a lot of time reinventing the wheel," said Stephen Bantillo, CDDD program manager at the city's Environmental Services Department, Integrated Waste Management Division.

To make sure the program would run smoothly, the city convened focus groups and held stakeholder meetings with contractors and homebuilders associations before implementing the program. "Our partnerships and communication with builders, waste haulers, and processors have been key to launching a successful program," Bantillo said. "Residents and businesses really use our programs and contribute to the city achieving its goals. The San Jose community is very interested in recycling, and that makes our jobs easier."

Bantillo and his staff members have their own vision for success. "We will consider the program a success when waste diversion and recycling happens automatically, without oversight," he said.

To recover C&D debris, the city expanded its PAYT program to offer incentives to both C&D debris generators and waste handlers. For generators, the city designed a "diversion deposit" plan. Under this program, when the city issues a permit to a contractor or developer for building, demolition, or remodeling, the city collects a deposit from the project's general contractor based on the square footage and type of project. Once the project is complete, the contractor receives an amount of the deposit back based on how much waste was diverted.

"We know that the simpler the recycling process is, the more people will be inclined to use it," Bantillo said. So the city made the program as hassle-free as possible, with minimal paperwork and a simple administrative process that benefits building contractors as well as city staff members.

Building a Market
To encourage C&D debris diversion, city-certified C&D debris processing facilities must divert at least 90 percent of C&D debris from disposal. Facilities that accept mixed C&D debris must divert 50 percent from disposal. The city give contractors and haulers a list of 22 certified facilities and encourages them to take their C&D debris to these sites, which both brings in business to the certified facilities and ensures that the contractor receives a full refund.

In addition, the CDDD Program awards grants to waste processing facilities that enhance diversion through investments in technologies or equipment, including water separation systems, air knives, and mixed debris sorting lines. The Guadalupe Landfill, for example, used a grant for $140,000 to invest in a mechanical and hand-sorting line that can process 200-plus tons per day, effectively expanding its C&D debris processing capabilities.

Builders also use alternative construction methods to divert C&D debris from disposal. For example, builders using recovered materials on a construction project will reduce the amount of waste that would otherwise be generated and also further ensure the return of a contractors' deposit. Once they finish a project, contractors submit the receipts from the certified waste processing facilities—or other evidence of waste diversion—with their refund request. So far, the city has not refused any refund requests.

For more information, contact Stephen Bantillo at stephen.bantillo@ci.sj.ca.us or at 408 277-3846.

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City Population
1. San Jose, CA 894,943
2. San Francisco, CA 776,773
3. Austin, TX 656,562
4. Seattle, WA 563,374
5. Portland, OR 529,121
6. Oklahoma City, OK 506,132
7. Albuquerque, NM 448,607
8. Sacramento, CA 407,018
9. Oakland, CA 399,484
10. Minneapolis, MN 382,618

Largest PAYT Cities in the United States

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Want to promote your community’s PAYT program?
Contact payt@icfi.com to share your community’s PAYT success stories with the readers of the PAYT Bulletin.

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