Pay-as-You-Throw Around the World

Pay-as-you-throw isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Countries around the world–especially in Asia and Europe–also use the system to cut waste and boost recycling. A few recent news stories illustrate the trend.


A feature story in the Wall Street Journal calls the small island nation “an international poster child for recycling,” painting a picture of a waste management system that centers on blue pay-as-you-throw trash bags for non-recyclable waste. (The system also features two elements not seen in the U.S.: musical garbage trucks and black-haired pigs that eat some organic waste.)

With pay-as-you-throw, Taiwan has a nation-wide recycling rate of 55% (much higher than the 35% rate in the U.S.). Some cities have an even higher recycling rate–67% in Taipei and 63.5% in New Taipei.

Read: Taiwan: The World’s Geniuses of Waste Disposal

South Korea:

In South Korea, a volume-based solid waste disposal system is helping bring the nation’s recycling rate to more than 80%, according to The Straits Times–with some households cutting their trash output by half. The article focuses especially on how pay-as-you-throw in Korea is helping to reduce food waste, with a 5% drop in tonnage of those materials nationwide since 2008.

As one woman says in the article, “I think it’s a good idea because people started to pay more attention to how much trash they throw”–proving that incentives work, whether it’s in the U.S. or anywhere else.

Read: South Korea Cuts Food Waste With “Pay-as-You-Throw Trash”

4 Responses to “Pay-as-You-Throw Around the World”

  1. Better than fines and it definitely makes you reconsider what you throw away. Our service structure is setup in a similar way where you pay more for the bigger sized garbage carts and your large recycle cart is included with your service….but it is not as refined as a pay-as-you-throw system.

    • Locke Raper says

      Hi Damon – Thank you for your message and apologize for such a delayed response. Yes. I think you are correct. Based on the data from across a range of cities over 20+ years it is clear that bag-based pay as you throw programs consistently drive the highest waste diversion and recycling improvements. The price signal connected to purchasing bags is a very efficient way to encourage different behaviors. For haulers it can also have positive operating impacts depending on how contract are structured. If you wish to learn more or have further questions, feel free to reach out to me directly lraper@wastezero.com. Warm regards, Locke


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>