Pay as you throw

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Pay as you throw (PAYT) is the name commonly given to garbage disposal methods in which customers pay for each unit of garbage that they produce. This system is usually in contrast to a flat tax system, in which a municipality levies a garbage tax that is the same regardless of how much garbage one produces.

Advantages of PAYT

  • Under PAYT, there is a strong incentive to reduce garbage output, since each unit of garbage is extra cost. Thus, more recyclable, compostable, and reusable waste will be kept from entering the landfill. In one case, a PAYT system caused garbage output to be cut about 50 percent, while the recycling rate grew by 150 percent.[1]
  • PAYT is a more equitable system than a flat tax, because an individual must pay for what he produces, no more or less. PAYT is a market-based system which requires individual responsibility.
  • PAYT is often implemented with "complementary services", which typically include municipal recycling and mulching, and which further increases recycling.


  • PAYT may increase the amount of illegal dumping (fly tipping), since users may try to get rid of garbage for free.
  • A flat tax provides a stable source of revenue for a municipality, whereas PAYT is variable and may be with a private company instead of a municipal government.
  • Some implementations of PAYT can add complexity in the form of tag purchases and other arrangements, which can be burdensome to citizens.
  • Some implementations of PAYT (e.g., weight fees) involve significant capital and administrative costs.
  • Implementation in multifamily housing with common waste disposal facilities is often problematic.
  • PAYT makes it difficult for cities to maintain public trashcans, e.g., in parks, because it creates an incentive for abuse.

External links

  • [1] (The City of Lambertville, NJ, prepared an evaluation of PAYT vs. flat tax, which summarizes the pros and cons of both systems)
  • [2] (EPA page outlining and advocating the benefits of PAYT over flat tax)

See also