Unit-Based Pricing in the United States: A Tally of Communities
Also included in the report is information on the number of communities by state and the number of communities adopting unit pricing by year. While this tally is not comprehensive, it represents a data gathering effort that involves contacting municipal, county, and state-level solid waste and recycling administrators, as well as private haulers. In addition, trade journals and the academic literature on unit pricing were reviewed.
For several states, the total number of unit pricing communities is a known underestimate; a lag exists in the time between community adoption of unit-based fees and delivery of this information to central data sites. Information about about PAYT communities will be added to this site as it is made available to EPA.
To access the community tally, go to the map of PAYT State 1999 or PAYT State 2006. Click on any state to view the cities and towns with unit-based pricing. Information provided includes the year unit pricing began, the type of fee structure utilized, and the container type used. Fee structure is defined as either fully variable, multi-tier, or additional base tax. With fully variable pricing, households pay for each can/bag set out. These programs typically incorporate fixed costs into the variable rate by basing the unit fee on estimated average costs. With a multi-tier system, the estimated fixed costs of collection and a basic level of service are financed by a flat fee or through taxes. Residents pay variable fees for incremental service levels above the base level. Similar to the multi-tier system, an additional base tax system involves a flat fee to cover estimated fixed costs of collection. However, residents do not receive a base level of service, and a variable rate covers all trash containers set out.
Population and number of households are derived from the 1990 census. For some communities, particularly unincorporated towns, census data were unavailable. Information on all program characteristics was not consistently available. Only 33 percent of the communities were able to identify the year of program implementation. Another 30 percent of communities did not know precisely when their program started, but reported instead the earliest year their programs were known to be in operation; start dates for these communities are indicated by the notation "pre-<year>" (for example, pre-1991). Approximately 37 percent of the communities either did not know or did not provide the year in which their unit pricing programs began.
Overviews of these data are also available. Table 1 presents a matrix indicating the number of communities using unit-based pricing in each state. States for which the total number of unit pricing communities are a known underestimate include Pennsylvania, Maine, California, New York, and Ohio. The scope of this research precluded the followup needed to get more complete data for each of these states.
Table 2 presents the total number of unit pricing programs by year of adoption as well as demographic information on these communities. This table, which chronicles the number of communities adopting unit fees for each year from 1990 through 1998, offers a preliminary understanding of the adoption of unit pricing programs. As with the community tally, however, information on program startups was frequently lacking. For communities unable to provide dates of implementation, the date in the table reads "pre-<year>." 1990 census figures on the total population and households represented by these communities are included in this table as well; however, population and household statistics are not estimates of the population participating in unit pricing programs. In most communities, unit pricing programs include single family up to quadraplex residences or a portion there of, while the census data are a count of total households.
Number of Communities Adopting Unit-Based Pricing Programs by Year and Corresponding Data on Population and Number of Households
Source: Unit-Based Pricing in the United States: A Tally of Communities, M.L. Mirando, Duke University, 1999.
|Start Date||Number of Communities||Total Population1||Average Population2||Total Households||Average Households||Cumulative Population|