When we last checked in on our friends in the town of Plymouth, Mass., in October, they were marking three months of pay-as-you-throw with some really powerful results: 39% waste reduction and $36,000 saved. By any measure, that’s a performance to be proud of. But we said at the time, “If Plymouth is anything like the other communities that we work with, there’s every reason to expect that they’ll continue to see their waste volume go down.”
Over the three months that followed, “America’s Hometown” has continued to–you see where we’re going with this?–see their waste volume go (yes) down. So while their three-month solid waste tonnage was down 39% from the same period one year earlier, across six months, they’ve dropped their waste by 42%. (By the numbers that’s down from 6,049 tons in the last six months of 2012 to 3,514 tons in the last six months of 2013–a big, big drop.)
And just as solid waste has gone down, recycling has gone up, by nearly double–from a 14% recycling rate in the second half of 2012 to 27% with PAYT in 2013.
Here’s what those changes look like on a graph:
And of course, the bottom line is the bottom line: by cutting the amount Plymouth needs to spend to dispose of their trash, and bringing more money from selling recyclable goods, PAYT has made a positive financial impact of $76,268 in these first six months. (Do we even need to point out that a town can do a lot with $76,000 they otherwise would have just been–ahem–throwing away?)
If you thought this was as good as it gets for Plymouth, think again. The town began curbside trash and single-stream recycling collection on Jan. 2, and Public Works chief Jonathan Beder says he fully expects that making things easier for folks there will make their waste and recycling numbers even better. Watch this space.