What is Pay As You Throw?
Under a Pay As You Throw (PAYT) trash program, households are charged for refuse collection based on the amount of trash they throw away, providing a direct economic incentive for residents to reduce waste by recycling more.
How does PAYT work?
You buy City approved bags at stores where you usually shop. Our waste hauler, Pine Tree, is instructed to pick up only the specially marked PAYT trash bags.
When did PAYT go into effect?
PAYT began January 1, 2011.
Where can we buy bags?
Bags are on sale at the following Brewer businesses:
Aubuchon Hardware (next to register)
Big Apple S. Main St. (hanging behind register)
Big Apple Wilson St. (front wall – same shelf as regular bags)
Hannaford (Aisle 15 with the other trash bags plus a two tier shelf near customer service)
Leadbetters Super Stop (next to register)
Lowes (ask for them as Customer Service counter)
Paradis Shop N Save (same shelf as regular bags)
Rite Aid (at cash register)
Save-A-Lot (aisle 4 at the register)
Toziers Market (not on display – ask at register)
Walgreens (in a side panel display near aisles 3 & 4 in middle of store)
Walmart (aisle 10 with regular bags)
How much do the bags cost? Are there different sizes?
Yes, there are 15 gallon and 33 gallon drawstring bags available.
15 gallon bags cost $1.25 each ($6.25 for a roll of 5)
33 gallon bags cost $2.00 each ($10.00 for a roll of 5)
What color bags will we use?
Brewer’s official PAYT bags are orange and imprinted with the City’s logo.
Do I have to pay for recycling, too?
No. In fact, the City has significantly enhanced recycling services by increasing the frequency to biweekly pickup and greatly expanding the list of items that can be recycled. By expanding and simplifying recycling, we are offering residents a way to minimize their waste costs. Click here for information about the City’s free Zero Sort recycling program.
Will I also have to pay to have my PAYT bags picked up?
No. The City pays Pine Tree to pick up garbage in the official PAYT bags.
Can I put my PAYT bags in a trash can or other container at the curb?
Yes, you can place one or more PAYT bags in containers at the curb.
Can I put other bags in my PAYT bags?
Yes. Many residents are choosing to use smaller plastic or paper bags for garbage in their house then periodically placing these in their PAYT bag stored in the garage, shed, basement, etc. until the PAYT is full.
Will everyone have to purchase bags?
Everyone who receives City-provided curbside trash pickup by Pine Tree (single family homes and multifamilies of 4 units or less) will have to purchase bags.
Will there be a senior discount?
No. Everyone will be paying the same price for the same size bags. However, those who produce less trash and/or recycle more will need fewer bags and have lower cost.
What if I don’t have the proper bag?
Pine Tree will not pick up your trash unless it is in a specially marked, City approved PAYT bag.
How will the City deal with offenders?
The City will regularly monitor areas that have historically had dumping issues. We will take steps to identify the offenders, and repeat offenders will be cited in accordance with local and state law.
How many PAYT bags will we be able to dispose of each week?
There is no limit on how many specially marked, City approved PAYT bags you may place curbside each week for pickup. The PAYT program is designed to offset the cost of trash disposal. Each resident controls how much they spend for their own trash disposal.
Do I have to put a PAYT bag out each week?
No. Some households may find they can go one, two, or even more weeks before filling a PAYT bag.
What if my trash item does not fit into the PAYT bag?
The only item not required to be in a PAYT bag are tires (not more than two passenger vehicle tires per household per week). If you have other non-recyclable items that do not fit into the PAYT bag, you may be able to dispose of them for a fee at the Brewer Landfill. Click here for hours of operation and a list of items the landfill will accept.
Will trash still be collected weekly?
Trash will still be picked up curbside every week. Recycling pickup will be every other week. Click here for a calendar of 2013 trash and recycling collection dates.
How can I lower my trash cost?
Participating in the City’s Zero Sort recycling program is an easy and free way to lower your trash costs. Upwards of 70% of household trash can be recycled. Composting yard waste and kitchen scraps and buying items with less packaging are also effective ways to lower your disposal costs.
Why should I pay for garbage pickup? Isn’t this what my taxes are supposed to cover?
Not all taxpayers receive garbage services. Businesses and commercial properties, including residences of over 4 units and trailer parks, pay substantial taxes yet must contract for waste collection.
With PAYT, it becomes more equitable for residents with smaller amounts of garbage to pay for what they use, and those who reduce and recycle are rewarded with a lower trash bill. Citizens who choose not to recycle, and therefore produce more garbage, will be rewarded with a much higher cost of disposal.
The City is still providing curbside collection of garbage as well as recyclables. There are many PAYT communities, including Ellsworth, without curbside collection—residents must not only purchase PAYT bags or tags, but they also have to transport their garbage to a transfer station.
Won’t PAYT increase illegal dumping?
Studies have shown that most communities that start a PAYT system see little to no increase in roadside dumping. Illegal dumping exists in almost all communities, but the majority of dumped materials is not residential in origin—it is usually bulky items (e.g. furniture, construction debris, etc) that are not affected with a PAYT system. Brewer Public Works will work closely with the Code Enforcement Office and Police Department to identify and pursue any offenders.
Why is Brewer implementing PAYT?
The City is implementing PAYT to offset the increasing costs of trash disposal. PAYT allows each household to control their volume of trash disposal and the costs associated with excess disposal. PAYT also encourages recycling, which benefits everyone.
How and when did Brewer arrive at this decision to adopt PAYT?
July 1, 2010 — City implements Zero Sort recycling and maintains once per month pickup.
January 1, 2011 — City implements Pay As You Throw program and increases frequency of recycling collection to every other week.
Click here to see the impact and savings by using PAYT and Zero-Sort Recycling.
What are the goals of PAYT?
- To help offset some of the City’s solid waste costs.
- To create equitable distribution of solid waste costs rather than increasing the overall tax burden—you will pay for your own trash, not your neighbor’s.
- To lower the amount the City pays to PERC for disposal of residential trash, and to proactively address the impending expiration of our 30 year contract with PERC, so that it does not result in undue impact to the City’s tax rate or fiscal position. A portion of the bag revenue will go into a reserve account to help smooth the transition to the significantly higher disposal costs the City will face.
Is PAYT a new idea in Maine?
No. Over 140 communities in Maine currently utilize a PAYT program. This solid waste model is prevalent in southern Maine and across the country and is becoming more common in central and northern Maine. Holden and Ellsworth have had PAYT in place for many years.
Why did you choose PAYT bags over PAYT tags or stickers?
While it is true that PAYT tags would be less expensive to produce and easier to store, experience from hundreds of communities has shown multiple advantages of using bags. Tags are easy to counterfeit; bags are not. Tags can fall off or be torn off. Believe it or not, some who are short a tag on trash day try to tape cash to their bag—easily misappropriated, as you can imagine. Bags are easy for the hauler to see and distinguish; tags much less so. Bags are more equitable because everyone is paying the same price for the same volume. Tags can be placed on varying sizes of bags. As a result, trash tonnages tend to remain higher under a tag program than a bag program. Numerous communities that started their PAYT programs with tags have since switched to bags. When Gloucester, MA switched from tags to bags, it experienced a 37% reduction in trash volume after just two weeks.
How much profit do the stores make off the bags?
The stores selling the Brewer PAYT bags are prohibited from marking up, or making a profit on, the bags. The bags prices are set by the City Council and that is what the stores pay to acquire the bags for re-sale to the public.
Will my taxes go down as a result of PAYT?
We estimate that the PAYT and Zero Sort recycling programs will provide close to a net $200,000 benefit to the City’s budget. This is comprised of an estimated $150,000 in bag revenue and a $45,000 reduction in PERC disposal costs. Normally such a reduction in net costs would have translated into a tax rate decrease; however, it was far from a typical year. In preparing the FY2011 budget, the City was facing an unprecedented $1.4 million shortfall in revenues, including a shrinking tax base (~$360k loss) and loss of state funding (~$800k). After multiple rounds of budget reductions, the City still faced a $400k gap. In the end, the budget included elimination of over 3% of filled staff positions, elimination of 5 seasonal positions, sharp reductions in numerous material and supply accounts, PAYT and other adjustments with varying impacts to services.
How much does the City pay for trash removal?
The bag fee does not cover all of the City’s disposal costs. The City spends about $700,000 per year on its solid waste programs, which includes refuse collection, recycling and the landfill. Refuse costs make up about 60% ($420k) of that total and are comprised of two primary expenses: the collection contract with Pine Tree Waste and the cost of disposal at PERC. In 2010, we spent about $170,705 and $230,000, respectively on these costs. In 2011, we estimate we will spend about $170,025 and $185,000, respectively.
Who can I contact to get more information?