This section outlines the aspects of city code which are either out of date or should be amended in order to fully and correctly incentivise a materials management approach to our municipal solid waste program.

Specific Recommendations

  • Amend city recycling code to reflect source separation goals.
  • Adopt a Pay-as-you-throw System (PAYT) for Solid Waste (thereby eliminating the annual, flat fee for recycling) with bin and/or bag standardization.

3.1.1 Source Separation

The city of Troy, as required by NYS law, has a source separation requirement for all citizens within city code [1]. This code should be updated to reflect the priorities of the city to include options for organic waste separation. Amending the code should only be done once the city has a reasonable structure in place for managing separated organic waste.

Section 234-3.2 (e) Recycling Service Fee, should be updated in accordance with one of the recommendations on "Itemize solid waste costs on tax bills." in Recommendation 2, Education & Enforcement of this report.

Legislative Intent should be updated as follows:

§ 234-1. Legislative intent:The intent and objective of this chapter is to promote and protect the public health and welfare by regulating the safe collection and disposal of solid waste; to reduce the amount of solid waste transported to solid waste facilities; to recover recyclable and compostable materials and deliver them to their final disposal recovery site; to offer alternative refuse disposal, recovery and recycling options; and to encourage participation by the whole community in more efficient solid waste management through a simple and cost-effective recycling and composting plan.

It is important that, beyond the punitive measures for non-compliance outlined in current code, there be systems in place to benefit those who make an active effort to reduce their waste generation. Therefore, we recommend the development of a Pay-as-you-throw system.

3.1.2 // Pay-as-you-throw system

Many municipalities have implemented pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) systems in order to encourage composting, recycling and other forms of disposal reduction. The guiding principle of PAYT is that users pay more if they put out more disposals for collection. In this kind of system, users are charged based on the amount of material they throw out, rather than at a flat rate, thereby tying payment to behavior. These programs create a financial incentive to waste less and encourage recycling, composting, source reduction and reuse [2].

As of 2006, 26% of communities in the US used PAYT systems, including 30% of the nation's largest cities. In New York, 42.4% of communities (445 communities) employ PAYT systems[3].

On average, PAYT accounts for a 17% reduction in disposals, of which 5-6% is attributable to recycling, 4-5% to yard waste, and 6% to source reduction efforts such as buying in bulk, reusing containers, etc [4]. Studies have shown that PAYT is the single most effective measure that can be taken to increase diversion rates for recycling and yard waste programs [5].

With the reduction in disposals, PAYT systems can also deliver a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions: EPA models suggest that the reductions seen in many PAYT systems could cut down on 2.1-3.8 million metric tons of carbon equivalents, 7.8-13.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, and 61-109 million MBTU annually[6].

Implementations of PAYT systems vary; some systems charge users by the bag, or offer receptacles of different sizes at different collection prices; still others weigh disposals as they are collected, matching receptacles to users via electronic labels on bins. The easiest system to implement is a hybrid system that uses current collection and billing methods, but sets a cap on the amount of disposals allowed, and charges extra fees based on a bag, tag, or sticker system.

While the efficient operation of PAYT systems depends on new costs such as equipment, administration, education and enforcement, studies have found no significant increase in per-household collection costs with PAYT implementation.[7]

Utica, NY, has used a hybrid PAYT system that has been administrated by the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority since 1988. In this system, homeowners are charged an annual fee of $79 for a single-family house, $158 for a two-family house, and $237 for three or more families in a residence. Refuse is only collected in two sizes of blue bags: a 30-gallon bag that costs $1.55, and a 15-gallon bag that costs $0.95. The bags are sold at 31 retail outlets in Utica[8].

City ordinances establishing this system can be found in the Utica city code, Sec. 1-22-33 through 1-22-34. The CWG-C recommends adopting similar codes requiring:
  1. That rubbish set out for public collection be placed and sealed in a city refuse bag. [or city-issued, standard container]
  2. That the city establishes a solid waste user fee for the public collection and disposal of solid waste from properties located within the city.
  3. That the solid waste user fee shall be charged and collected by the sale of city refuse bags at a price to be determined by ordinance. For bulk and other items not reasonably capable of being placed within a city refuse bag, the rates for collection and disposal of such items shall be as determined by ordinance.
  4. That a rate for large container services be negotiated with public agencies within the city.
  5. And that the city may direct its employees or contractors to collect and dispose of garbage, refuse, or bulk which has been improperly prepared, stored or disposed of as required by the provisions of law, establish by regulation appropriate charges for such services, and promptly bill the owner for such services.

The CWG-C recognizes that the factors that contribute to a low recycling rate in Troy (low homeownership rates, high turnover rate in renters, high student population, etc.) will make the implementation of PAYT difficult. A PAYT system, as it exists elsewhere, might be rendered moot through a successful enforcement and education program, like what is currently in place in New York City.

[1] Preparation and Procedures, City of Troy, NY Code (2007), § 234-3. (accessed January 12, 2013).
[2] Lisa A. Skumatz and David J. Freeman, “Pay as you Throw (PAYT) in the US: 2006 Update and Analyses”, Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc., Superior CO, (December 2006).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Lisa A. Skumatz, “Nationwide Diversion Rate Study—Quantitative Effects of Program Choices on Recycling and Green Waste Diversion: Beyond Case Studies”, Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc., Seattle WA. (1996)
[6] Lisa A. Skumatz and David J. Freeman, “Pay as you Throw (PAYT) in the US: 2006 Update and Analyses”, Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc., Superior CO, (December 2006).
[7] Ibid.
[8] More information about the Utica system can be found at