By Mary Harrington

Atlantans, and anyone else who pays for curbside garbage service, should become familiar with the term Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) or Save Money and Reduce Trash (SMART) as it’s known at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Whatever name you use, it’s an idea whose time has come in Atlanta.

Currently, the City of Atlanta has limits (technically) on the amount of garbage residents can put at the curb each week, but everyone pays the same base amount for the collection of that garbage – regardless of the amount. The residents who recycle and compost and have little garbage for curbside collection pay the same base fee as people who do not recycle or compost and place a lot of garbage at the curb.

In a PAYT/SMART system, residents are given an opportunity to pay less if they put less garbage out for curbside collection. If a resident wants to put a lot of garbage at the curb, they will pay more for that privilege. This type of system encourages waste reduction, recycling and composting so promotes local recycling and composting businesses, backyard composting programs, saves landfill space, it is good for the environment and can save money for residential customers.

There are a number of ways to implement this system, from offering smaller-to-larger sized garbage carts to using bags for garbage (residents have to buy the bags so if they use more bags they have to purchase more).  Each system has its proponents or critics. The City of Atlanta has examined the feasibility of introducing a PAYT system so residents need find out more and be informed consumers and tax payers.

To find out more about PAYT go to epa.gov.

 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

4 replies on “Pay-As-You-Throw: A new system for waste reduction”

  1. Pay-as-you-throw would be punishing for me. I do independent litter pickups in and near my neighborhood, and I bring home the s-bags of litter and (sometimes) car parts and deposit them in MY Herbie.

  2. Pay-as-you-throw would be punishing for me. I do independent litter pickups in and near my neighborhood, and I bring home the s-bags of litter and (sometimes) car parts and deposit them in MY Herbie.

  3. I don’t like the pay by the bag idea at all. You may take a bag to the trash can simply because it is stinky not full. I know people that take a bag out everyday. Doesn’t mean it’s alot of trash. Unless you mean super huge bags that would be almost the size of the trash can itself. That may be OK. Then you could put the smaller bags in the larger bags. But honestly, regardless of how much you use…the drivers still have to come by your place, still have to load the truck, and still need to take it to the dump.

  4. I don’t like the pay by the bag idea at all. You may take a bag to the trash can simply because it is stinky not full. I know people that take a bag out everyday. Doesn’t mean it’s alot of trash. Unless you mean super huge bags that would be almost the size of the trash can itself. That may be OK. Then you could put the smaller bags in the larger bags. But honestly, regardless of how much you use…the drivers still have to come by your place, still have to load the truck, and still need to take it to the dump.

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