Pay As You Throw

Because waste is just a resource out of place

Pay As You Throw (PAYT) is a materials management model where entities (typically homeowners) are charged for the amount of trash that they throw away, much like they are charged for the use of other utilities such as electricity. Charging more for garbage than recycling or composting, PAYT works to encourage more environmentally-sustainable waste habits.

FAQ

What is Pay As You Throw (PAYT)?

Pay As You Throw (PAYT) is a materials management model where entities (typically homeowners) are charged for the amount of trash that they throw away, much like they are charged for the use of other utilities such as electricity. Charging more for garbage than recycling or composting, PAYT works to encourage more environmentally-sustainable waste habits.
 

Why did Yale pursue a PAYT pilot?

Yale’s PAYT pilot aimed to reduce waste on campus and inspire lasting behavioral change. One of the goals in the Yale Sustainability Plan 2025 is to create, pilot, and assess a “pay as you throw” (PAYT) system at Yale by January 2022. A task force of Yale faculty, administrators, and students developed a strategy to implement and assess a PAYT pilot to study how this approach might work within the university context.

What did we hope to accomplish with the pilot?

We hoped that a PAYT program at Yale would reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling by incentivizing participants to generate less trash. It should:

  • Make our community more conscious of their decisions as consumers
  • Decrease campus use of natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, and other air pollutants
  • Create opportunities for academic research and collaboration between faculty, students, and operational staff

What did the pilot involve?

The pilot involved three treatment groups and two control groups. The three treatment types were 1) a traditional charge group; 2) a traditional charge plus information group; and 3) a reputation group (specific to the residential colleges). The first two treatment types shared one control group of like-buildings, whereas the third treatment type’s control group consisted of several residential colleges.
 
Buildings for treatments 1 and 2 were identified based on availability of data and whether or not they share a waste collection space with other units. The preference was to select buildings that do not share space, so that it is clear who is generating the waste.
 
Once eligible buildings were identified, treatment selection was randomized. Building selection was also randomized for the residential colleges. 

To find out more about the three treatment programs, please call the Office of Sustainability at 203-436-3571.

How long did the pilot run?

The pilot took place from January–April 2019.

How much were buildings charged?

No buildings received any additional charges. Buildings in the traditional charge group and traditional charge plus information group received test bills only. The test bills reflected what would be charged based on amount of waste generated, rather than on square footage. Residential colleges in the reputation group received monthly data updates showing how they compared to other buildings in the group.

What were the results of the pilot?

The pilot showed that receipt of data and information is valued by the Yale community and can lead to both a decrease in waste and an increase in recycling. Qualitatively, it showed that a university-wide traditional PAYT scheme would require significant changes to the infrastructure of Yale’s waste system: because a PAYT model seeks to charge buildings based on the amount of waste they produce, better ways of differentiating waste production would be needed. 

Help! None of these questions answer what I am looking for.

Please reach out to sustainability@yale.edu.