Success in Sanford

Do you remember when we told you a few months ago to “watch this space” to see what would happen with pay-as-you-throw in Sanford, Maine? Over the past few years, Sanford had adopted pay-as-you-throw, and then voted it out, and then adopted it again—and we had a hunch that they’d be putting up some good numbers, just like they did back in 2010.

Well, they did.


In just the first two months of the program, Sanford cut its municipal solid waste by 42% and almost doubled its recycling rate. From when the program began on Sept. 16 through Nov. 15, Sanford residents threw away 556 tons of MSW, compared with 955 tons in the same two-month period one year earlier.

Cutting that much waste has made a big difference for Sanford’s municipal finances. As a result of not sending those 399 tons to the landfill, Sanford saved $28,104 in solid waste tipping fees during this two-month period. The City Manager, Steve Buck, has said that based on the program’s performance so far, PAYT may actually exceed their expectations for cost-savings.

The trend line above—up, down, back up, and now back down again—tells a heck of a story about the effectiveness of pay-as-you-throw. The people of Sanford are now seeing what more and more people all around the country are seeing: pay-as-you-throw just works.

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