Watch This Space—Pay-As-You-Throw in Sanford, Maine

The City of Sanford, Maine is back.

For those of you keeping score, the city’s leaders instituted a bag-based pay-as-you-throw program in July of 2010, then voters repealed the program through a referendum four months later, and just this week they’ve started doing pay-as-you-throw again.

As you’d expect, Sanford’s municipal solid waste volume plummeted when the program began, and then—no surprise—that figure jumped back up as soon as it stopped. Even after that, solid waste volume kept rising, gradually, over the years that followed. Here’s what that trend looked like through the end of last year:

sanford maine pay as you throw solid waste recycling

The thing is, once pay-as-you-throw was gone from Sanford, the city had to pay to dispose of a lot of garbage they knew from experience that they simply didn’t need to be creating. Even city councilors who had opposed pay-as-you-throw at the time of the referendum supported bringing it back. And so, after a while, they called WasteZero in again to try to find a way to revive pay-as-you-throw. We worked with them to design a program that met their needs, and voters ratified it in June.

Sanford’s new pay-as-you-throw program kicked off earlier this week. They’ve got three sizes of orange bags stamped with the city seal in stores all around town, and the city knows that they’ll save $70.50 for every ton of trash that’s diverted from the waste stream—a total of around $116,000 every year, according to city leaders. (They also estimate that they will collect an additional $654,000 in revenue from the sale of the orange bags.)

sanford maine pay as you throw solid waste recyclingWe’re eager to see that blue line drop back down again as Sanford’s waste volume decreases again under pay-as-you-throw. We’ll be keeping a close eye on it, and we’ll be sure to report back. Are you curious too? Watch this space.

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