Sep 23

At One-Year Mark, Plymouth, Mass., Pay-as-You-Throw Program Cuts Solid Waste Almost in Half, Nearly Doubles Recycling Rate, and Saves More Than $125,000

Joshua Kolling-Perin
Director, Public Engagement

North Andover, MA – Sept. 23, 2014 – Having completed the first year of its pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste reduction and recycling program, the town of Plymouth, Mass., has reduced its solid waste by 44%, almost doubled its recycling rate, and has saved $126,000 in waste disposal fees, according to new figures released by the town’s Department of Public Works.

Since Plymouth’s program began on July 1, 2013, municipal solid waste (MSW) has decreased by 44%. The average MSW tonnage per household per month in FY 2013 was 0.095; that number decreased to 0.053 for FY 2014.


Plymouth’s recycling rate almost doubled with PAYT, from 16% in the year before PAYT to 31% in PAYT’s first year. Overall recycling tonnage increased 37%, from an average of 0.018 tons per household per month in the year before PAYT to 0.024 tons with PAYT.


The changes have had a significant impact on Plymouth’s municipal finances. Even with an increase in the overall number of program participants, Plymouth decreased its waste disposal spending by $126,653 between FY 2013 and FY 2014. However, due to decreases in the value of recyclable materials between FY 2013 and FY 2014, the overall financial impact of the program on Plymouth has been $83,917.

There have also been meaningful environmental benefits to Plymouth’s PAYT program. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), the amount of garbage that Plymouth has diverted from the waste stream in the first year of PAYT has reduced greenhouse gases by an amount equal to the emissions from 1,700 cars. In addition, the added recycling collected in this year has saved the same amount of energy that would have been used to power 660 houses.

Plymouth Director of Public Works Jonathan Beder said, “The Department of Public Works is very excited by the results of the first year of PAYT. Given that Plymouth’s recycling rate had been stagnant prior to the implementation of PAYT, and the costs to dispose of MSW were set to increase by almost 300 percent, it was necessary to be proactive and implement policies and programs to reverse the trend of low recycling rates and high MSW disposal costs. The results speak for themselves and offer proof that the PAYT program has been a great success for the town.” He added, “Looking forward, the department is optimistic that the municipal curbside collection program will continue to grow, which will serve to further increase recycling rates, lower MSW disposal costs, and provide superior customer service to the residents of Plymouth.”

About Plymouth’s PAYT Program

The PAYT program in Plymouth began on July 1, 2013. Under the program, residents use official orange bags stamped with the Plymouth seal to dispose of their trash. For the first six months of the program, the orange bags were in use only at the town’s transfer station. On Jan. 1, 2014, the town introduced automated curbside collection with single-stream recycling, and participants in that option also use the orange bags to dispose of their MSW.

The orange bags are available at 23 retail outlets throughout Plymouth and in several neighboring communities. They come in two sizes: small, 15-gallon bags sold in packages of eight, and large, 30-gallon bags sold in packages of five. Packages for both sizes sell for $6.25.

For more information about Plymouth’s SMART program, please visit /plymouth-ma.aspx/.

About WasteZero

WasteZero, the leading provider of municipal solid waste reduction programs in the U.S., is on a mission to cut residential trash in half across the nation. WasteZero partners with hundreds of municipalities throughout the U.S. to reduce the amount of waste landfilled and burned, increase recycling, and generate savings. The company helps municipalities design, launch, and manage next-generation pay-as-you-throw systems, in which people pay by the bag for their solid waste services. These programs increase individuals’ awareness of the cost of their trash, reducing solid waste by an average of 44% and doubling or sometimes tripling recycling. In most cases, WasteZero is able to guarantee its municipal customers that its programs will meet or exceed specific waste reduction targets.

WasteZero manufactures the customized specialty plastic trash bags for its programs and other customers in the U.S. from recycled content. It is committed to creating U.S. jobs and to solving the nation’s solid waste crisis. A certified B Corporation, WasteZero is a national organization with key management offices in Raleigh, N.C., and the Boston area, and a manufacturing facility in Hemingway, S.C.

For more information, visit www.wastezero.com.