PAYT Bulletin: Spring 1998
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 Spring 1998 issue. To review other issues of the Bulletin, use the links on the right side of this page.
- PAYT Gets Boost from Massachusetts State Planner
- Research Update
- Rate Structure Design Workshops
- PAYT Events Around the Country
- PAYT Grant Proposals
- EPA Launches PAYT Online
- List of PAYT Regional Contacts and Grantees
"Massachusetts is promoting PAYT because it works," explains Joseph Lambert, recycling solid waste planner for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and project manager for the state's unit-based pricing program. "Of the 77 communities with full-fledged programs, over 75 percent received an 'A' on their recycling report card." (To earn an A, communities must achieve a minimum recycling rate of 30 percent.)
Lambert first began noticing PAYT when it successfully increased recycling rates and reduced waste levels in communities like Worcester and Seekonk. With average community recycling rates at 33 percent in 1996-and facing an ambitious 46 percent recycling goal set for the year 2000-Lambert saw in PAYT a way for Massachusetts to move aggressively to find ways to increase diversion in all 351 municipalities across the state.Massachusetts has set a goal of having PAYT programs in place in 40 percent of its municipalities by 2000.
Since then, Massachusetts has set a goal of having PAYT programs in place in 40 percent of its municipalities by 2000. According to Lambert, "If the 50 largest municipalities in Massachusetts, who represent over 50 percent of the state's population, all implement unit-based pricing, the statewide recycling rate will jump from 33 percent to nearly 37 percent."
Grants and Technical Assistance
Getting communities to consider implementing PAYT was the next step. Lambert and other state planners began focusing on innovative ways to use grant programs, technical assistance, and other strategies to encourage local officials to consider PAYT and, if appropriate, adopt a program. Offering financial incentives through the state's voluntary Municipal Recycling Incentive Program (MRIP) is one strategy they promoted. Under MRIP, interested municipalities must meet a set of eligibility criteria, including increasing recycling participation, recycling access, and recycled product purchases. Municipalities that qualify receive a direct grant payment-an "incentive," as it's called by state and local planners-for each ton of designated recyclables diverted. To encourage use of PAYT, Massachusetts exempts from the participation and access criteria (although not from the buy recycled requirements) those municipalities that have or will implement unit-based pricing, making it easier for them to qualify for incentive payments.
Because many communities are concerned about such PAYT implementation costs as purchasing bags or stickers, Massachusetts also awards grants for bags or stickers to new programs. To qualify, a community has to provide the state with a PAYT implementation plan and document that the program has the local political support it needs to move forward. Grants of $10 per household are awarded to qualifying communities to help defray such costs as the purchase, printing, and shipping of customized bags or stickers from the state's contracted vendors. If there are additional funds remaining after the purchase of bags or stickers, the community may use the grant for recycling containers, educational materials, or other program expenses.
Massachusetts also provides a referral service to people calling in for information, modeled after the Council of Northeastern Governors's PAYT peer-mentoring program. To implement this service, Lambert explained, "The first thing we did was obtain accurate data on what the state is doing." DEP then produced a guide that lists and describes the state's PAYT communities. Interested planners can call any of DEP's four regional planners or seven MRIP district coordinators for information or assistance.
In the Works
Because PAYT is often critical to the success of curbside recycling programs, Lambert is encouraging communities to offer "parallel access" to both recycling and trash collection. According to Lambert, "You get the most out of unit-based pricing if you offer curbside collection of both trash and recyclables." And DEP is proposing another incentive for communities to implement PAYT: a fast track to Department Approved Recycling Program (DARP) certification. Earning this certification exempts a community from the random inspections they would otherwise face at disposal facilities to determine if they are complying with the state's waste bans. While there is currently a long list of proposed criteria that a municipality must meet to receive DARP certification, proposals for 1999 to 2000 ease conditions for achieving DARP status if the municipality has PAYT.
All told, Lambert says, these efforts are enabling Massachusetts to help build a PAYT infrastructure. For more information about efforts to expand PAYT in Massachusetts, contact Joseph Lambert at 617 574-6875.
First year results from implementing PAYT can be truly impressive! As reported in the Fall 1997 PAYT Bulletin, researchers at Duke University identified an increase in recyclables collected of 32 to 59 percent in the first year of PAYT and a reduction in waste disposed of 15 to 28 percent. In addition, there's an important aspect of this research that may make these findings even more significant: this study is based on data from a subset of some 40 cities and towns that had no other changes to complementary programs (i.e., they did not add commodity types to their recycling program or introduce a composting program when implementing PAYT).
So what about communities that did adopt or expand complementary programs when switching to PAYT? While research on this issue is continuing, planners in these communities have often reported even higher waste diversion numbers.
You've decided to start a PAYT program in your community, obtained political buy-in, and chosen your containers. Now you have to decide how much to charge per container.
Luckily, national experts are available to help you with the rate design process. John Gibson, an economist and a utility rates expert, and Jim Morris, a full cost accounting expert and trainer from Rutgers University, are conducting rate structure design workshops in communities across the country. These one- to two-day workshops, sponsored in part by the International City/County Management Association and the Conference of Mayors, offer a rare opportunity for MSW planners, financial analysts, and others to receive personalized training on how software programs and other tools can help you develop a rate structure.
Workshops are being planned in six cities across the country; organizations with the resources to host an event can arrange for additional workshops as well. If interested, contact Gordon Hui at 703 308-9037. The EPA Headquarters PAYT Team will review all potential locations and, if feasible, help you plan your workshop.
Montana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is planning to conduct training this year to promote PAYT in the state. The department will also select two communities this year for its PAYT technical assistance program. Contact: Peggy Nelson, 406 444-5307.
The Global Futures Foundation (GFF) is planning four PAYT workshops to provide local government officials with practical implementation information. The first took place in March; additional workshops will be held this fall in Arizona and Nevada. A fourth workshop, also to be held this fall, will focus on measuring PAYT program success. In addition, GFF will provide direct assistance to two communities implementing PAYT in Region 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada) next year. Contact: Wendy Pratt, 916 486-5999.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is planning four workshops focusing on implementing PAYT in rural areas. Three will be held around the state through July 1998 and one is scheduled for September 9-11, 1998 in Lander, Wyoming. The state has also set up a PAYT Web site at www.trib.com/WYOMING/RECYCLE . Contact: Dianna Gentry Hogle, 307 332-6924.
The Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) is conducting a series of focus groups with private haulers to obtain input from this segment of the industry. Two successful sessions have already been held in Missouri and Arkansas. Additional sessions will be held throughout the Midwest this spring. The organization wants to learn more about the obstacles waste haulers face in implementing PAYT and strategies they have used to overcome them. A report should be available by summer. Contact: Cindy Kidd, 316 662-7858.
On May 6, 1998, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is conducting a PAYT workshop at the New England Environmental Expo in Boston, Massachusetts. A panel of federal, state, and local officials will discuss the advantages of PAYT; staff from EPA Region I and DEP will describe state assistance available to Massachusetts communities. Contact: Joseph Lambert, 617 574-6875.
On April 21, 1998, a workshop on PAYT facilitated by the Public Recycling Officials of Pennsylvania (PROP) will be held at the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors' annual convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Representatives from municipalities with PAYT will deliver presentations on how they implemented and promoted their programs. Contact: Melinda Kokus, 717 485-9166.
EPA's PAYT Regional grant awards program, first begun in 1997 with awards to nine grantees, is in full swing again this year. At press time, 25 applications for PAYT support and research initiatives have been received from state offices, county and local governments, non-profit groups, and other organizations. Grant reviewers at EPA are now carefully considering the 1998 proposals. Grant award winners and funding levels will be announced in April. For more information about the 1997 and 1998 PAYT grants, contact Henry Ferland at 703 308-7269.
More and more local officials are turning to the Internet's World Wide Web for fast, accurate information. To keep pace with these changes, EPA has revised and updated its existing PAYT Web site and given it a new, easier-to-remember site address. Check out Pay-As-You-Throw Online at www.epa.gov/payt, a new, one-stop resource for anyone interested in learning more about how PAYT programs work.
Visitors unfamiliar with unit-based pricing programs can pick up background information and an outline of the site's contents in the "Introduction" section. In "Tools and Events," many of the PAYT materials created by EPA are available electronically (either directly on the site or as downloadable PDF files). Also available are electronic copies of this publication, including back issues beginning with the Fall 1997 issue.
In addition, users can access a state-by-state listing of PAYT programs in the "Community" section, as well as a list of the largest PAYT communities, case studies, and a map of the U.S. illustrating state preferences for bags, tags, or can programs. In "Topics," information is offered on everything from pricing systems to strategies for earning public support for PAYT. The "Research" section contains summaries of over 50 articles, studies, and reports, some of which can be downloaded. If there are additional questions, visitors can go to the "FAQ" area for specific information on a variety of topics.
The enhanced site premiered in December, and quarterly updates are planned throughout 1998.