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The approach of Pay-As-You-Throw – PAYT- (also known as variable rate pricing, unit pricing, differentiated tariff system) in waste management is to realize the polluter pays principle in a fair manner by charging people in accordance to the amount of waste which they actually generate.

In the traditional schemes for household waste management in Europe, the services are financed via general taxes or due a fixed recurring fee in bills of other supply services as electricity, regardless of the produced waste amount. The cost is usually calculated on the basis of living space, the number of household members. This way of financing is unfair for people who produce little waste either because of their recycling-composting efforts or because they don’t over-consume.  Furthermore, it even puts people in a situation where they must not mind a lot how much they are consuming, what amount of waste they produce and what impact their behavior causes to the environment.

Pay-as-you-throw is breaking with this tradition of waste management organisation by treating services related to waste management just like other utilities, for example, electricity supply, water supply and telecommunication. In PAYT schemes household pay a variable amount depending on the quantity of waste generated by them and the corresponding service they obtained for its disposal.

Seen across the varying applications and specific implementation objectives in the different countries where PAYT has already been introduced, the principal aims of variable waste charging can be summarised by the following points:

  1. To reduce the waste disposed to landfills without increasing the treatment needs beyond recycling and composting.

  2. To save raw materials economizing natural resources through recycling-composting.

  3. To establish equity and more fairness in waste charging among citizens.

  4. To improve the awareness towards environmental protection.

Principal driver for the introduction of PAYT scheme is the development in the field of waste management by the local authorities. A PAYT scheme can be easily introduced in a Municipality if integrated and functional recycling infrastructure already exists. Furthermore, people accept more easily PAYT schemes if composting is additionally applied. Environmental considerations and equity of treatment in conjunction with fair charges on the side of the citizens are also important.