New London considers ‘Pay As You Throw’ to help recycle more

(WTNH/ Tina Detelj)

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — City residents hear about a new way they could save money on their trash collection.

The program is called Pay As You Throw (PAYT) and in New London that may mean you could start seeing yellow bags alongside the blue recycling bins like you see in Stonington on trash day.

“Everybody has to put their trash in that bag for us to collect the trash and just by the psychological dynamics of that people know they’re buying the bag and they only put trash in the bag and they tend to recycle a lot more,” said New London Public Works Director Brian Sear.

A Public Information Forum will be held Wednesday night at the Science and Technology Magnet High School to explain how a Pay As You Throw trash collection system works, including its potential to reduce trash and disposal costs for the City.

Sear says others with this program have cut the amount of trash in half and that could cut the $800,000 the city pays to dispose of it in half too.

“That would be an excellent thing because I’m sure that either we need to save that much or we may be able to use that on something great like education,” said resident Sharon Giovenale.

“I have to buy new trucks or lease new trucks going forward,” said Sear. “There’s no additional money for that unless we raise taxes.”

Or Sear says he could use the money saved from trash disposal to buy those trucks.

“I do have my concerns about that working in a city like New London where there is a lot of rental properties,” said one woman who wanted to remain anonymous.

She said some residents won’t want to pay the dollar a bag to throw out their trash. But as the city says they have to buy bags anyway.

“I do believe that there are a lot of people who their dollars are tight,” the woman added.

In February 2017, the City Council approved the City applying for two grants from Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to pay for a study of a PAYT system and potential implementation by the City of New London. In September, the City was awarded $54,000 in grants from DEEP.

new london trash New London considers Pay As You Throw to help recycle more
(WTNH/ Tina Detelj)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, in communities with pay-as-you-throw programs (also known as unit pricing or variable-rate pricing), residents are charged for the collection of municipal solid waste—ordinary household trash—based on the amount they throw away. This creates a direct economic incentive to recycle more and to generate less waste.

Traditionally, residents pay for waste collection through property taxes or a fixed fee, regardless of how much—or how little—trash they generate. Pay-As-You-throw (PAYT) breaks with tradition by treating trash services just like electricity, gas, and other utilities. Households pay a variable rate depending on the amount of service they use.

new london recycles New London considers Pay As You Throw to help recycle more
(WTNH/ Tina Detelj)

The EPA says most communities with PAYT charge residents a fee for each bag or can of waste they generate. In a small number of communities, residents are billed based on the weight of their trash. Either way, these programs are simple and fair. The less individuals throw away, the less they pay.

The Public Information Forum begins at 6 p.m.

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