What is “Pay As You Throw”?
For utilities like electricity, water and gas, individuals pay by how much they use. In contrast, trash isn’t managed based on individual consumption or personal demand – meaning your neighbor could put out ten bags of trash a week, and your household could put out one, and both households will pay the same amount. This systems is failed and not conducive to waste reduction incentives.
With programs like, Pay-as-you-Throw (PAYT), also known as “Save as you Throw” or “unit pricing”, people pay per bag or per bin. This program is currently being utilized in over 7,000 communities in the U.S. and has been shown to be the most effective and cost-effective way to quickly and substantially reduce waste.
On average, communities using “Pay as you Throw” programs find a 44% reduction in waste disposal per person, and other studies have shown around a 28% decrease in total discards (waste plus recycling) due to people reducing and reusing more, which saves individuals and local governments money and resources, and improves environmental sustainability in waste management.
What can I do in my community to reach Zero Waste in Delco?
The first step individuals can do is to rally for the adoption Zero Waste Resolutions in their municipality. A resolution is a written acknowledgment and commitment by the municipal leadership. It is the recognition of a desire to pursue waste reduction strategies, implement stronger recycling and composting programs and recognizing the collective need for more sustainable practices in waste management. In Delaware County, there are 49 municipalities and several have Environmental Advisory Committees. Contact your local municipality and schedule a meeting to educate the leaders on Zero Waste and adopting a resolution. Example of a Zero Waste resolution.
The Delaware County Solid Waste Authority (DCSWA) currently manages county-wide waste contracts which dictate where the municipal trash is sent. DCSWA manages the contract with Covanta where 78% of Delco’s trash is sent to be incinerated. It operates as a private-entity with a Board members elected by Delaware County Council and serving different year terms. The Covanta trash contract is up for renewal in 2022 and DCSWA must inform Covanta of contract renewal at least 6 months prior, meaning the contract renewal confirmation could be as early as Spring 2021. More information on Delaware County’s contract with Covanta Incinerator in Chester.
Landfilling is the much better alternative to incineration – while simultaneously adopting Zero Waste programs to reduce trash going to landfill through recycling and composting. When trash is incinerated: 70% ends up as air pollution, and 30% ends up as toxic ash which goes to landfill, making it more toxic and dangerous. For more information on incineration versus landfill, click here.
While the image of trash sitting indefinitely in giant landfills may frighten many, the knowledge that we are breathing in all of Delco’s trash and the garbage from Philadelphia, NJ and NYC is a horrific truth. It explains the high asthma and respiratory illness rates our youth are experiencing in Chester and across the region.