A Closer Look at Massachusetts

Recently, we looked at 100 cities and towns in MA that provide curbside trash collection to see if the towns with Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) or Save Money and Reduce Trash (SMART) programs produced less trash than those without.  The data were very clear-cut, and you can read more here.

So, it’s clear that PAYT/SMART programs reduce trash.  But do those programs continue to work long term?  Are the benefits “durable?”

To answer that question, we analyzed the trash output of the 50 largest cities and towns in Massachusetts.  Of those 50 communities, 7 have PAYT/SMART programs and 43 do not.  For each municipality, we looked at the annual pounds of residential trash generated per capita over a four-year period:  2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Here’s what we found:

  • Communities with PAYT / SMART generated an average of 463 pounds of trash per person in 2016.
  • Communities without PAYT/SMART generated a lot more during the same time period:  668 lbs per person.
  • On average, trash continued to drop in the communities with PAYT/SMART.  The average overall drop from 2013 to 2016 was 2.1%.
  • When communities implement PAYT/SMART, trash drops by 33%-44% very rapidly in the first year, and they will continue to see incremental improvements as the years go by (on average).

Once again, the results are very clear-cut:  PAYT/SMART programs work fast…and they work long-term.  The full report and rankings can be found here.

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