- With Albany's landfill slated to reach capacity by 2022, the city is facing a $180-per-unit trash fee and considering a pay-as-you-throw system by 2018; a panel is currently reviewing a tentative time line for such a system. It is hoped that a pay-as-you-throw model will save the city in trash disposal costs and generate revenues from increased recycling.
- Albany currently recycles 11.3% of its waste, according to a 2013 report — though the city said if the data accounted for yard waste, electronics, and other non-household materials, the diversion rate was over 50% in 2014. A 2013 analysis concluded a pay-as-you-throw system in Albany using bags, as Binghamton and Utica do, would "significantly exceed the economic benefits," and the program "could pay for itself over the long run." That same study showed the average Albany resident threw out more and recycled less than Utica and Binghamton residents.
- The pending closure of the landfill weighs into the financial equation; the city will lose about $11.5 million in revenue and have to pay to ship trash out of town.
Pay-as-you-throw is getting serious attention and not only in New York. Hanson, MA reported it reduced its solid waste volume by 64% and doubled recycling rates within a year of adopting this system. Other municipalities around the country are considering this model.
Colorado economist Lisa Skumatz's analysis mirrored these findings, showing increased landfill diversion rates of 13-18%. Proponents of this payment model also argue that charging by amount of trash, opposed to number of dwelling units, is more fair to low-income residents in apartments who otherwise pay disproportionately more, regardless of the trash they generate.
In Albany, pay-as-you-throw is inevitable, claims the city's Chief Auditor Leif Engstrom. "We have a culture here that you can put anything on the curb. I'm sorry, party's over. We (otherwise) won't have a landfill anymore," he said.
But while Skumatz said the system gives residents more control over their bills, residents can be resistant.
"It's a tough fight, even though there's a lot of logic to it," said William Rabbia, executive director of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, which oversees Utica's pay-as-you-throw system. "Pay-as-you throw makes it equitable. You start talking dollars, and you'll end up convincing them."