Jump to main content.


Other Topics

Communities implementing pay-as-you-throw need to ensure that residents comply with the new program's rules and procedures. Research has shown that communities developing effective enforcement programs have few compliance problems.

Possible compliance issues include:

Any solid waste program-whether or not it includes pay-as-you-throw (PAYT)-typically has an enforcement component. Communities offering variable rates often can tailor existing enforcement procedures for the new program.

One of the first enforcement steps planners often take is to ensure that residents find complying with PAYT easy. During the consensus building and education and outreach phases, planners can solicit input from residents about how to arrange the new program. Convenient procedures can then be established for waste collection, sale of bags or stickers, and other details. This can be one of the most effective deterrents to compliance difficulties.

In addition, communities usually make sure that relevant local ordinances or other legal arrangements are in place. These ordinances are designed to deter any activities that might undermine the program's effectiveness. For example, ordinances prohibiting illegal dumping and burning are often adopted by communities offering variable rates for trash services. While communities may find it helpful to review ordinances from other cities and towns, the particular language typically needs to be customized to fit local circumstances.

Top of Page

Public education

[Photo of Badge]Public education and outreach is an essential part of enforcement. Many communities have found that the potential for lack of compliance is much less of a concern once residents clearly understand how the program works and what is expected of them. Planners often establish and communicate to residents program details including limits on the acceptable size and weight of filled containers, how payment is made, and how trash in excess of a household's subscription level should be handled. Clear, easy-to-follow instructions presented repeatedly tend to be most effective.

Conducting a pilot program can help to increase residents' understanding of how the PAYT works. Pilot programs are usually implemented in a few neighborhoods or for specific program components. Building understanding and support in this way translates into fewer enforcement problems in the future.

There are other methods communities use to ensure compliance. Publishing violations in the newspaper can be an effective deterrent. Establishing special collections for certain wastes (for example, bulky items or materials such as paints, pesticides, and other items considered to be household hazardous waste) can help deter illegal dumping or burning. Planners often report that instilling an environmental ethic in the community can significantly reduce the potential for illegal diversion. Activities such as citizen cleanup days or adopt-a-highway projects galvanize citizens' interest in maintaining and improving their community.

Top of Page

Special populations

Enforcement is often of concern when apartments/multi-family housing is included in a PAYT program. In apartments/multi-family housing, trash is typically combined in a central location to await collection, making it difficult to determine the amount of waste generated by individual units. Municipalities must work in tandem with apartment managers and tenants to create effective enforcement programs. These may include the use of bar-coded trash meters that would automatically record information on trash disposal amounts for billing, careful monitoring by building managers, or other measures. Because of these enforcement issues, some communities elect not to include residents of apartments/multi-family housing-at least not initially-in their PAYT program.

Planners also might need to factor enforcement into efforts to extend services to low-income residents. Eligibility requirements, typically focusing on physical or financial limitations, must be established. The solid waste agency then might need to screen applicants, followed by routine monitoring to ensure that the customer's circumstances continue to warrant special rates or services.

Top of Page


Both direct enforcement efforts and public education are likely to impact staffing needs. While some municipalities rely on the police to ensure that local ordinances are followed, others hire enforcement staff and develop procedures for investigating incidents. These inspectors may need to receive training, equipment, and facilities. Staff must also devote time to developing and delivering educational materials and programs to the community. As with other solid waste program costs, staff time for enforcement can be factored into the PAYT rate structure design. Some communities set a goal of generating revenue beyond that required to pay for solid waste collection and earmark those funds for enforcement or to develop educational programs.

Top of Page

Additional resources

For answers to questions about ensuring that residents comply with your PAYT program's procedures, visit enforcement in the Frequent Questions section of this Web site.

Top of Page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.