Study shows potential of Pay-as-you-throw

A report by the Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and sustainable Resource management (ACR+) points out the advantages of PAYT in terms of waste reduction and recycling.
Michael Loeper,

ACR+ has analysed seven municipalities from seven different countries for their strategies with regard to pay-as-you-throw (PAYT). The territories covered are: Interza (Belgium), Maastricht Municipality (the Netherlands), Umeå Municipality (Sweden), Zollernalbkreis (Germany), Treviso (Italy), Besançon (France) and Innsbruck municipality (Austria). The study focuses on household waste. Results show that PAYT has the potential to adapt well to local conditions, to encourage (residual) waste reductions, to increase considerable recycling and (home) composting and to be wellreceived by stakeholders. The report also demonstrates how PAYT systems vary greatly in detail, coverage, objectives, time horizons, targets, indicators, monitoring systems, measures, and policy instruments and results.

According to the study, PAYT should always be incorporated in a mix of environmental policy measures such as prevention/ recycling targets, EPR, bans/ taxes and public information campaigns. It is often recommended to launch PAYT with Door-to-Door collection schemes to maximise the accessibility of diversion. It also states that the design of the fee structure, or mix of fixed and variable fees, is critical to fully incentivise changes in waste behaviour.

ACR+ points out that the fee structure should correctly reflect the costs of the waste services for the municipality, but also hold the proper balance of fixed and variable parts to encourage reductions. This means the municipalities need to have a solid understanding of the costs involved with their waste collection infrastructure. PAYT schemes appear to be most effective when the fees payable by households are at levels high enough to encourage reflection by householders on their waste generation behaviour.

With regards to waste prevention, weightbased systems are most successful, followed by combined volume and frequency-based/sack-based systems, and then volume-based systems (i.e. schemes where households simply choose a specific size of container). Care should be taken for PAYT and producer responsibility schemes to be complementary. Additionally, the largest reductions in waste appear to come from the diversion of food waste, meriting adequate attention to this waste stream.

According to the study, the general advantages for the policy listed by the municipalities are that it is “fair,” offers a strong incentive for waste reductions and increased sorting, and that it delivers high quality waste data.


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