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PAYT Bulletin: Summer 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 Summer 1998 issue. To review other issues of the Bulletin, use the links on the right side of this page.

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Welcome to the New and Improved PAYT Bulletin!

We've expanded! The PAYT Bulletin now contains twice the amount of PAYT news and information to help keep you up to date on EPA resources, local events, and successful strategies for implementing PAYT. Designed with the MSW planner in mind, each quarterly issue spotlights a successful PAYT program; lists workshops, conferences, and other PAYT events throughout the country; and covers the latest PAYT resources. If you have suggestions for the Bulletin or know of someone who would like to receive a copy of it, please call the Pay-As-You-Throw Helpline at 888 EPA-PAYT (372-7298).

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PAYT Programs Thrive on Personalized Outreach

Any type of change presents new challenges and concerns. Changing a community's solid waste collection system affects everyone from elected officials to school children. Addressing the unique needs of these groups while making the most of limited resources presents a challenge for state and local governments that are implementing PAYT for the first time. Some solid waste managers, however, have found creative ways to successfully promote and implement PAYT. Personalized education and one-on-one customer service were the keys to two PAYT success stories from the state of Arkansas and the city of Austin, Texas.


Robert Hunter and his solid waste staff try to serve all of their citizens with a personal touch. From the initial outreach plan to the heart of the educational campaign, Arkansas's winning PAYT strategy focuses on the unique needs of everyone involved in the program. This includes reaching people on every level-elected officials, solid waste managers, and residents-through targeted outreach efforts.

To tailor his promotion strategy, Hunter first solicited advice and resources from other PAYT supporters in EPA's Region 6 office. EPA staff worked closely with Arkansas and other states in the region at meetings such as solid waste education roundtables. "I have to give a lot of credit to regional staff for making sure we all got involved in it [PAYT]. We were able to use their library and work with them on a personal level," said Hunter.

To introduce variable rate pricing to local solid waste managers and interested citizens, staff organized 10 host sites throughout the state to view EPA's satellite video conference entitled The Nuts and Bolts of Pay-As-You-Throw...From Those Who Know. The forum, featuring PAYT practitioners and experts, aired nationwide on March 12, 1999 9, 1997.

A personal connection between state and local solid waste staff does not necessarily keep the general public informed, however. Hunter emphasizes a focus on individuals and communities, as well.

"Regional things alone just don't work," he said. "Each community thinks it is very unique. Successful staff members are those who reach out to citizens on an individual level."

Staff made PAYT education as accessible and convenient as possible, reaching communities statewide through schools, elected officials, and solid waste managers. Rather than mailing general information to households, education specialists drove to every corner of the state to meet with people face-to-face. They ensured all localities and groups received a tailored PAYT message by attending teachers' in-service workshops and conferences such as the Arkansas Recycling Coalition Conference. They also attended meetings of the Municipal League, the County Judge's Association, city councils, and school boards. Staff even gave presentations at schools to teach children about the equity benefits of PAYT.

In addition to hosting workshops and meetings, the state used its grant from EPA to educate the public through flyers and brochures. Since most people had never heard of variable rate pricing or PAYT, state staff faced the challenge of promoting the benefits of PAYT as well as dispelling misconceptions about recycling and solid waste disposal. Raising general public awareness is vital.

LightbulbEven with all of these efforts, Hunter estimates only 20 percent of his staff's time is spent promoting PAYT. Since Arkansas launched the campaign last year, three communities have begun the process of adopting PAYT and eight more are examining their options. Even communities that have not adopted PAYT have taken strides towards increased recycling and composting.

"Publicity and education about PAYT convinced some to upgrade from dropoff to curbside [recycling], or to make composting more of an option for waste reduction," Hunter said. "I believe other advances will come with time."


Unlike Arkansas, Austin faces the challenge of serving hundreds of thousands of residents living in a concentrated area. To ensure that new customers received the personal attention they deserved, Solid Waste Director Willie Rhodes tested PAYT with 3,000 customers before phasing the program into all areas of the city.

"This way we know what the issues are and we can fix individual problems before going citywide," Rhodes explained.

Limiting the initial number of customers allowed Austin's solid waste staff the time to conduct specialized promotion of the new program. A voice mail system proved to be a cost-effective way for staff to monitor concerns while giving citizens an opportunity to offer feedback. Staff also solicited help from citizen volunteers to spread the word about the new program. These strategies allowed the city to stretch its limited financial and personnel resources, while maintaining a personal touch.

Instead of expanding instantly from the pilot area to the entire city, Austin implemented PAYT in three stages over the course of 3 years. Solid waste staff knew they had to order carts, arrange for additional trucks and equipment, and organize employees. With more than 130,000 households to serve, that process could not happen overnight. The phased-in approach allowed staff to anticipate potential problems and to tailor outreach efforts to the unique needs of each of the affected communities.

Two years after implementing PAYT citywide, Rhodes faces an enviable problem: collecting more recyclables than he expected. The city recently investigated options for dual compartment vehicles with compactors to deal with the 11 percent increase in its diversion rate. Rhodes attributes this success to the phased-in approach and conscientious planning.

Rhodes suggests other large cities use a phased-in approach because it allows staff to incorporate community feedback into the program design and to provide the level of customer service that is necessary in a large city. He also recommends visiting other cities to learn how your neighbors plan their routes, use their equipment, and respond to customers.

Rhodes is optimistic that with forward thinking, Austin's PAYT success story will continue. So far, it has shown that even a large city can serve its customers well while decreasing its trash.

Both Arkansas and Austin faced the dilemma of educating a wide range of people about a new system of solid waste collection. Through careful planning, they found creative ways to respond to the masses without sacrificing individual attention or targeted outreach. The personal connection proved to be the cost-effective, winning formula.

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Rate Structure Design Workshop in Chicago

EPA's rate structure design workshops are off to a great start. John Gibson and Jim Morris, national experts on PAYT rate setting, have helped communities across the country see the benefits of using Image of trashbag and money software programs and other tools to develop an effective rate structure for their PAYT programs. Participants at past workshops also had an opportunity to share information and tips on rate structure design. The next workshop will be held in Chicago on September 10, 1998, at the Great Lakes Conference Center. For more information, please call Dorothy Morrison, of the International City/County Management Association, at 202 962-3585.

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PAYT Events Around the Country

Montana MapMontana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is sponsoring a PAYT video conference on July 2. The program will include an overview of two existing PAYT programs in Montana and a discussion of their results. In addition, it will provide specific information on how communities can design and implement a successful PAYT program. The video conference will be broadcast to 15 sites throughout the state. Contact: Peggy Nelson, 406 444-5307.

Wyoming MapThe Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is planning four workshops on implementing PAYT in rural areas. Three will be held around the state through July 1998, and one is scheduled for September 9 to 11, 1998, in Lander, Wyoming. The state also has set up a PAYT web site at www.trib.com/WYOMING/RECYCLE. Contact: Dianna Gentry Hogle, 307 332-6924.

Arizona MapThe Global Futures Foundation (GFF) is planning four PAYT workshops to provide local government officials with practical information on implementing PAYT. The first took place in March; two more workshops will be held Nevada map 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.

New Hampshire mapThe New Hampshire Governor's Recycling Program is planning four workshops for municipal recycling officials throughout New Hampshire in July, August, and September. The workshops will provide participants with an introduction to PAYT and the opportunity to experiment with the rate-setting process by using a software program. Also, municipal officials who have implemented PAYT programs will share their real life experiences. Contact: Elizabeth Bedard, 603 271-1098.

Oklahoma mapThe Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) will conduct four PAYT focus groups in July and August 1998 in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Wichita, Kansas. The focus groups will involve discussions with private waste haulers to identify the barriers they face in implementing unit-based pricing strategies. Each focus group will be targeted to specific discussions of an identified barrier. A report on the outcome of the focus group discussions will be available by December 31, 1998. Contact: Cindy Kidd, 316 662-7858.

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Help with Illegal Dumping

Are you wondering how to successfully prevent illegal dumping in your community? Are you curious about how other communities have met the challenge? If you answered "yes" to these questions, then the Illegal Dumping Prevention Guidebook is for you. This new publication, developed by EPA Region 5, discusses the factors that contribute to illegal dumping and presents tips for developing an effective prevention program. The guidebook includes a "toolkit" containing case studies of communities that have implemented successful prevention practices. The toolkit addresses all the components of a winning program such as cleanups, community outreach, ordinances, and tracking and evaluation. For copies of the guidebook, please write to: U.S. EPA Region 5; Waste, Pesticides, and Toxics Division; 77 West Jackson Boulevard (DW-8J); Chicago, IL 60604-3590. (Click here to access an electronic copy of this document.)

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Lights, Camera—PAYT!

A forthcoming EPA video shows how PAYT helps communities reduce waste and recycle more while controlling Action Slate rising solid waste program costs. The video, divided into two modules, is designed to be used both as a general introduction to PAYT and a training tool covering all the major facets of PAYT implementation. Viewers also will learn about the achievements of several case study communities and their strategies for success. This exciting new PAYT resource is free and will be available this fall. Stay tuned!

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