We’re all used to hearing the knock on waste reduction initiatives: if they’re effective, they’re expensive–and if they don’t cost very much, they don’t do very much.
One of the most impressive things about the pay-as-you-throw model is that it breaks that paradigm, simultaneously bringing cities and towns profound waste reduction while also making a stunning positive financial impact.
Just look at the city of Worcester, Mass., which has had a pay-as-you-throw program since 1993. As retired Worcester Public Works chief Bob Moylan, who started the program and led it for two decades, said in a presentation at a Solid Waste Association of North America conference this week, PAYT in Worcester has dramatically helped the city, both in terms of waste reduction and finances.
Today, Worcester is throwing away 55% less trash than it did before PAYT. Fifty-five percent. After 21 years, they’re well on their way to diverting a billion pounds of trash that would have gone to the incinerator if not for pay-as-you-throw.
And doing that didn’t cost them a penny–in fact, it brought them (are you sitting down?) $94.5 million. $94.5 million. That’s a cumulative figure over all the years since PAYT began in Worcester, made up of $46.8 million in program revenue, $26.3 million in operational savings, and $21.4 million in disposal savings.
Let’s be honest: What city can’t find something better to do with a hundred million dollars than throwing it away?
Interested in learning more about the financial power of pay-as-you-throw? Here’s the SWANA presentation: