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Goal Setting

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For communities considering a pay-as-you-throw program, setting goals is an essential part of the planning process. Establishing realistic goals and priorities at the outset provides solid waste planners with guidelines they can use when deciding between different program design options.

Success in solid waste management can be measured against standards as varied as recycling diversion rates, total costs, and customer satisfaction. For this reason, the first step when planning for pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) is to determine the goals of your program based on a review of your community's solid waste needs and concerns. Although planners will want to solicit input from local residents and other interested parties before coming up with a final list of goals, it is useful to first examine and prioritize objectives internally. Some planners conduct in-house brainstorming sessions to establish a preliminary set of goals, followed by a shorter session to revisit, refine, and prioritize them.

Specific goals and objectives can vary significantly among communities. Examples include:

[Photo of Bullseye] Achieving every objective on a community's list can be difficult. That's why prioritizing goals is essential. Establishing priorities will allow planners to evaluate how different program components and service options will affect the overall success of their PAYT initiative. In addition, meeting key goals requires a careful consideration of potential tradeoffs. Circumstances may require compromise in one area in exchange for progress in another.

Once a list of preliminary goals has been established, consider setting up a PAYT team or citizens' advisory council to help refine and prioritize these goals. The team might include solid waste staff, interested citizens and elected officials, civic leaders, and representatives from affected businesses in the community. These teams can be an important part of building consensus for your program. Including a wide range of individuals and interests in the planning process can help give the community a sense of program ownership. It also can provide a built-in education and outreach network, increasing the variety of ways in which information about your program can be disseminated and feedback received.

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Additional resources

For help in prioritizing goals and identifying issues that stakeholders may want addressed, go to the goal-setting worksheet (Worksheet 1 in the set of seven worksheets (PDF) (21 pp, 331K, about PDF) in the Pay-As-You-Throw Tool Kit.

For answers to questions about setting goals for a PAYT program, visit goal setting in the Frequent Questions section of this Web site.

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