Pay-as-You-Throw Is Coming to Fall River, Mass.

Fall River, Mass., is now set to implement the pay-as-you-throw program proposed by Mayor Will Flanagan. The program will kick off on Aug. 4.

Fall RiverFall River, a diverse city of almost 90,000 in southeastern Massachusetts, had been facing a dramatic budget shortfall, with millions of dollars in lost revenue due to the closure of their landfill, expiration of a federal public safety grant, and increases in state-mandated education and retirement costs.

With a projected 44% decrease in Fall River’s solid waste tonnage (353 pounds per person per year), PAYT will have a dramatic financial impact on the city. The city is predicting that it will generate $3.5 million in the first year alone, due to $800,000 in disposal savings and $2.7 million in revenue from trash bag sales.

Pay-as-you-throw in Fall River will also have a profound environmental impact. A 44% cut in solid waste means cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26,000 metric tons of CO2—the equivalent of taking 5,000 cars off the road. In addition, the increased recycling collected is projected to save an amount of energy equivalent to what’s needed to power 1,500 homes per year.

Explaining his support for the program to the Fall River Herald News, Mayor Will Flanagan last month said, “Our goal is to have people recycle. Now that you are paying for a trash bag, it becomes a utility, just like you flip on a switch for electricity or water. You’re going to pay for what you use.” Look for Fall River to see some great benefits in the coming months and years for asking its residents to pay for what they use.

4 Responses to “Pay-as-You-Throw Is Coming to Fall River, Mass.”

  1. nancy carvalho says

    can we use regular trash bags then put them in the purple bags also what about food scraps what do i do with them and one more thing my friend is a diabetic what does she do with the used needles

    • Yes, you absolutely can put other bags in the purple bags. That’s a good way to combine trash from multiple bins in your house into the purple bag for pickup day.

      Food scraps are trash (not recycling), so they go in your purple bag. If you’re interested, composting your food scraps can really cut down on the amount of trash you throw away (meaning you need to buy fewer purple bags). Here’s information about how to do that from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/recycle/reduce/composting-yard-and-food-waste.html.

      And in terms of used needles, the move to pay-as-you-throw won’t change anything. As always, the best practice is to ask a doctor to recommend a program for disposal. If that option isn’t available, it’s best to put the needles in a rigid plastic container like a milk carton or a laundry detergent bottle, close the lid, and then put the container in the purple bag.

  2. Really 10$ for a package of 8? Thats insane expensive. The only thing this program does is tax the middle. Just a way to tax the residents without calling it a tax. 10$ for a pack of 8. I want to see the profit margin spreadsheet on that one. Considering i can buy a pack of 20 for the same price!

    Vote for big government and this is what you get. Over priced government programs that claim that its “good” for the environment!

    • If you multiply the cost of the pay-as-you-throw bag by the number of bags you’re using now, you do get a big number, but it’s bigger than you’re likely to actually end up spending. Because pay-as-you-throw gives people incentives to make less waste (and recycle more), the average household actually uses just 1.2 large bags each week.


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