Image credit: WasteZero
Some places have looked at paying people to recycle, but others think it makes more sense to charge people for their waste instead. When the UK talked about implementing a "pay-as-you-throw" scheme for trash, our readers were broadly supportive of the idea. However, the UK Conservative Party (which is now in Government) decried the trash metering plans as little more than "another stealth tax"—despite the fact that paying for what you use seems like one of the most central tenets of capitalist economic ideology. But the UK is not the only place this is happening—and early results from one community in Maine suggest that trash metering can slash landfill waste and greatly boost recycling rates in a matter of weeks. Assisted by Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) specialists WasteZero, Sanford, Maine recently implemented a comprehensive trash metering system that saw residents reducing the amount of trash they throw away by more than 50 percent. The town's recycling rate, meanwhile, grew by 150 percent! All this in one month since the launch of the scheme. A press release from WasteZero claims that the result will be massive savings for the town, and ultimately the tax payer:
"Sanford's 50 percent reduction in trash tonnage translates to a 50 percent savings in the tipping fees the town pays to unload trash at the Maine Energy Recovery Company (MERC) in Biddeford. Officials say that, at the current rate, the town will save $250,000 to $275,000 in tipping fees over a year, which doesn't take into account an anticipated increase in tipping fees of 20 percent in January, 2011."
I'm sure there will be those who rebel against paying for a service they once saw as "free", but ultimately those of us who do make an effort to reduce our waste should not be paying for folks who do not—whether that's through our taxes or direct landfill fees. It's pretty simple economics that people on both ends of the political spectrum should be able to agree on.
More on Pay-As-You-Throw and Trash Metering
UK to Introduce Pay-As-You-Throw" Scheme for Trash
UK Conservative Party Gets Grouchy Over Trash Metering
It Pays to Recycle in Chicago
Here is an Incentive to Recycle: Money