Cape Cod’s Oldest Pay-as-You-Throw Program, in Cape Cod’s Oldest Town

For a town that was founded almost 400 years ago, there’s a lot that’s innovative about Sandwich, Mass. It was the first town on Cape Cod—and it was the first Cape Cod community to adopt pay-as-you-throw, back in July of 2011. With three years under their belt now, Sandwich has the numbers to show what a good decision that was.

Sandwich has cut its solid waste by fully 48% since the program kicked off, from 5,329 tons in Fiscal Year 2011 (the year before PAYT) to 2,767 tons in Fiscal Year 2014 (which ended on June 30).


While they’ve been cutting their trash volume, they’ve been boosting their recycling as well. The recycling rate in Sandwich has almost doubled, from 19% before PAYT to 36% in the fiscal year that just ended.


Of course, making less trash and collecting more recycling brings positive economic outcomes. For Sandwich, PAYT has meant a total disposal fee savings of $425,911 since the program began—including $146,034 in FY 2014.

And we haven’t even mentioned the environmental benefits from three years of PAYT in Sandwich. According to figures from the EPA, the amount of garbage that Sandwich has diverted from the landfill since the program began has reduced greenhouse gases as much as the emissions from 3,000 cars during those three years. And the added recycling has saved the same amount of energy that would have been used to power 1,100 houses for that time. Think about that: PAYT in Sandwich has had the same benefit as taking 3,000 cars off the road for three years or fully powering more than 1,000 houses.

Other Cape Cod towns have followed Sandwich’s lead (Brewster and Wellfleet also have PAYT now), and others are considering it. That’s a record of innovation that Sandwich should be proud of.

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