- University of Maine graduate student Travis Blackmer conducted an online survey about municipal solid waste handling, which found that residents recycle more in communities that use pay-as-you-throw trash disposal programs.
- The survey, which received more than 900 responses from 172 communities in Maine, found that 74% of citizens recycled more and 32% consciously bought products with less packaging once PAYT was implemented. Many survey respondents found that it was "easier to comply" with PAYT programs.
- The survey also found that those who are "economically stressed" are 7% more likely to illegally dump or burn trash.
The survey provides strong support for pay-as-you-throw programs, which have slowly been implemented throughout Maine over the past few years. The town of Brewer started pay-as-you-throw in 2010, Old Town started in 2012, and Eliot started the program in 2013. WasteZero reported that, after two years of using a PAYT program, Eliot diverted 56% of trash from the landfill and saved more than $46,500.
PAYT programs have been implemented in other states, as well. Hanson, MA has reported that it doubled its recycling rate to 38% and saved $51,000 in disposal fees after one year of a PAYT program in the town.
Despite the positive feedback, there is much improvement that can be made in Maine. "There were some ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ attitudes surrounding recycling behaviors where people were concerned if others noticed that they weren’t recycling," Blackmer told the Bangor Daily News. More education and encouragement will need to be put in place to make sustainable trash disposal a state-wide practice.