The many ways 'pay as you throw' will benefit New London
Last year I was asked to look into ways of providing existing services more efficiently to save New London money, but still improve the city’s quality of life. One method that my research uncovered was a SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash) program known as Pay As You Throw (PAYT).
In pursuit of this alternative, a commissioned study of PAYT for the city, funded through a atate grant, was undertaken. The study includes data from dozens of communities on best municipal waste practices. City staff have visited municipalities in the region that have implemented PAYT for a firsthand look on how the program works. Following are specific program benefits to the city:
- The PAYT program significantly decreases the cost of municipal waste disposal. Currently, city taxes pay for the collection, packing, trucking and disposal of approximately 850 pounds of trash per person. That figure will be reduced to approximately 450 pounds per person after PAYT is implemented. That savings, along with revenue from bag purchases (estimated at $52 per household per year), will generate annual savings to the city’s operating budget of approximately $600,000 using a conservative estimate. This equates to approximately one-half mill in taxes.
- The program implementation will not require expending funds. The implementation plan includes changing the use of the current 90 gallon green containers to recycling. With the PAYT program, bags with non-recyclable municipal waste are picked up directly from the curb.
- Under a PAYT program, curbside pickup becomes safer and more efficient. The city currently picks up whatever is stored in the green containers. At times, this has included heavy, bulky objects that are a strain throughout the pickup, packing and trucking process. The bag system keeps weights reasonable and doubles the efficiency of trash pickup, while resulting in reduced injury costs and time off.
- The PAYT system will allow the city to utilize smaller, safer and more efficient trash trucks. All of New London’s trash vehicles are well past their serviceable life. Some of the savings from PAYT program will go towards purchasing new, smaller vehicles that are ideally suited to the new trash/recycling system. These will cost much less to purchase, operate and repair. With proper care, the fleet could last more than 10 years.
- The PAYT program creates cleaner neighborhoods. The city’s current municipal waste, “anything goes” pick-up system results in unsightly, chaotic piles curbside on trash day. Recycling frequently blows out of the smaller open containers creating constant litter. Collection day in cities with PAYT programs involves one or two bags placed next to one or two 90-gallon closed containers.
- Coincidentally, trash collection day on each of the routes will see yellow bags next to dark green containers, a suitable color combination for the Whaling City.
- The PAYT program will require participation by all users of the city’s trash collection process. Every location from which the city collects trash must participate, including non-taxpaying property owners and municipal properties. This will ensure compliance as well as make all users stakeholders in the process. City schools are already planning successful communication, implementation and tracking of the program in their civic curriculum.
- The new program is a stepping stone for increased recycling efforts. PAYT can be used as a springboard for planning additional recycling steps, such as composting of yard and food waste. It is a responsible move toward a cleaner environment. The program will result in increased energy security, reduced greenhouse gases, less pollution and reduced burning of fossil fuels.
New London is committed to making this program’s implementation and management successful and a benefit to every New London resident and business. It is a program of which New London can be proud.
Brian Sear is the director of Public Works for the City of New London.
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