The “Pay-as-you-throw” scheme, PAYT, is an economic instrument for waste management that applies the “polluter pays” principle by charging inhabitants of municipalities according to the amount of residual, organic and bulky waste they send for third-party waste management. When combined with well-developed infrastructure to collect the different waste fractions (residual waste, paper and cardboard, plastics, bio waste, green cuttings, many recyclables) as well as with a good level of citizen’s awareness, its performance has frequently been linked to high collection rates of recyclables. However, the establishment and operation of PAYT systems can require significant resource inputs from municipalities. In this paper, PAYT is analysed through a case study from the German County of Aschaffenburg, covering nearly 20 years of implementation across 173,000 inhabitants living in 32 municipalities. Key performance indicators include temporal trends in the county’s recyclables collection rate, waste treatment fees for residents and municipal waste management costs, benchmarked against German municipalities not implementing PAYT. In consequence, PAYT could make an important contribution towards material reuse and recycling objectives for the new circular economy.
Economic instruments – Pollution-related waste charges – Pay-As-You-Throw – Awareness raising