Waterville’s Pay-As-You-Throw program received further validation in a recently released report that analyzes the impact of unit-based pricing (also known as pay-as-you-throw or PAYT) programs on residential trash in Southern Maine. Prepared by WasteZero, the nation’s leader in helping cities and towns reduce residential trash, the report used data from ecomaine to analyze the average pounds of trash thrown away per person during fiscal year 2017. The company then ranked the communities based on how much trash per capita they generate. Out of the twenty communities served by ecomaine that were evaluated, Waterville ranked number 1 with a pounds per capita disposal of 235 which is significantly below the average for the region. The full report is available here.
Waterville’s high ranking in the report underscores the success of a program that on every key measure has proven to be beneficial for Waterville residents since it was introduced in September 2014. Financially the waste reduction and recycling program has saved on average $200,000 a year in disposal fees over the past 5 years. The Town has also cut its residential solid waste collected curbside in half and increased its recycling rate by 20 percentage points during that time.
The program began on September 8, 2014. Residential municipal solid waste (MSW) collected curbside has decreased 56% since the program began—from 4294 tons in FY2014 (the year before PAYT) to an average of 1894 tons per year since the program began.
The waste reduction from PAYT has had a profound impact on Waterville’s municipal finances. The Town has saved an estimated $1 million dollars in waste disposal fees for the 5 years that the program has been in place.
Waterville’s recycling rate increased from 1% the year before PAYT to 20% with the program—a significant improvement. Overall, recycling tonnage has increased ten-fold from 50 tons the year before PAYT to an average of 500 tons per year with PAYT.
Waterville has also derived meaningful environmental benefits from its PAYT program. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM), the amount of garbage that Waterville has diverted from the waste stream since 2014 has reduced greenhouse gases by an amount equal to the emissions from 890 cars during that period. In addition, the added recycling across the 5 years has saved the same amount of energy that would have been used to power 335 houses for that time.
“Waterville’s pay as you throw program has been a resounding success and the town’s positive ranking relative to its peers underscores why,” says Mark Turner, Waterville’s Director of Public Works. “Residents appreciate the enhanced recycling, and financial savings for taxpayers that throwing away less trash every year creates.”
ABOUT WATERVILLE’S PAYT PROGRAM
Under the program, residents use official purple bags stamped with the Waterville logo for weekly curbside garbage collection. The purple bags are available at 17 retail outlets in the city. They are available in 2 sizes—15-gallon ($10 per 8-bag roll) and 30-gallon ($10 per 5-bag roll). The city’s bi-weekly single-stream recycling collection is free to residents. More information about the program is available on at