Six Great Months of Pay-as-You-Throw in Wellfleet, Mass.

The numbers are in for the Cape Cod town of Wellfleet, Mass., which has just marked six months of pay-as-you-throw—and they’re great.

In just a half a year with PAYT, Wellfleet has cut its residential waste tonnage by 40%. Between December 2013, when the program began, and May 2014, Wellfleetians threw away 309 tons of trash—a huge drop from the 513 tons they pitched in the same six-month period a year earlier.


Pay-as-you-throw has also brought a big bump in recycling, from 167 tons a year ago to 225 tons in the first six months of PAYT—a 35% increase. That brings Wellfleet’s recycling rate up from 25% before PAYT to 42% with PAYT (well above the Massachusetts average of 30%).


Because it cut its trash tonnage, the town says it has saved $9,275 in waste disposal costs with pay-as-you-throw. (Those savings are made up of $3,774.74 in reduced tipping fee spending and $5,500 in lower transportation costs.)

Like many communities in their corner of Massachusetts, Wellfleet went PAYT because their tipping fees are about to more than triple—from $18.50 a ton now to $60 a ton in 2016. As their Board of Selectmen chair told a local newspaper, “The main reason for PAYT is a financial matter.”

Wellfleet’s program serves its 2,750 year-round residents as well as up to 16,000 visitors in the peak of summer. People who use the town’s transfer station throw away their trash in purple bags stamped with the Wellfleet town seal. The bags are available in three sizes: 8-gallon ($.50 per bag), 15-gallon ($1.00 per bag), and 33-gallon ($1.50 per bag). The bags are available at nine retail locations in Wellfleet and neighboring communities. Recycling is free.

2 Responses to “Six Great Months of Pay-as-You-Throw in Wellfleet, Mass.”

    • Doug, retailers carry the bags with no markup. They do generally find, though, that there’s a foot-traffic benefit to selling an item that everybody in town needs.


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