Economía circular


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The Pay-As-You-Throw, PAYT, is an economic instrument that uses the “polluter pays” principle at the municipal level by charging inhabitants according to the amount of waste they send for third party management. There are several systems for the implementation of PAYT:

· Volume-based schemes (choice of container size).

· Sack-based schemes (number of sacks set out for collection).

· Weight-based schemes (the weight of the waste collected in a given container).

· Frequency-based schemes (the frequency with which a container is set out for collection - this approach can be combined with volume- and weight-based schemes).

Best practice is that weight-based door-to-door collection, not only for residual waste but also for organic waste and bulky waste. The successful implementation of an efficient PAYT system requires a well-developed infrastructure to collect different fractions of waste by individual bins (paper/cardboard/board, organic waste, eventually waste plastic and organic waste), glass containers and recycling facilities for ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment, refrigerators and other white goods, waste plastic, waste polystyrene, waste wood, green cuttings, non-commercial construction and demolition waste, waste tyres, printer cartridges, vegetable fat, textiles, shoes, cork, CDs, etc. in order to offer the citizens a comfortable way to get rid of materials which they do not need anymore. The collection system for all these waste fractions is described in the BEMP on collection systems (see section 3.9). In addition, awareness raising is also a key element for well-performing PAYT systems; if the citizens are aware and convinced of the system, they will actively support it. About 10 municipalities in Germany apply the weight-based system (e.g. counties of Aschaffenburg, Schweinfurt, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Landsberg am Lech) as well as municipalities in the Netherlands and in France (City of Besançon). It is also practised in the US United States.

The pre-paid sack system is widespread in Switzerland (and is applied in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and in few cases in Italy and Spain.


Due to PAYT, The amount of residual waste significantly decreases and the amount of recycled waste increases accordingly - if the infrastructure to collect and to process the recyclables is available and efficient and the citizens have adequate awareness and actively support the system. Recycling rates of 70% and more, up to 86% in case of weight-based systems are achieved.


The County of Aschaffenburg implements a weight-based collection of residual waste, bio waste, and bulky waste, as

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well as the separate collection of paper from all households. The motivation for introducing a weight-based charging system for residual and bio waste collection centered on fairness (user and polluter pays principles) for domestic users (commercial and industrial enterprises were excluded), the need to introduce new bins with wheels to facilitate manual handling, the introduction of centralized billing by the county in 1994 (previously carried out by municipalities), high incineration costs, limited composting capacity for bio waste, and ecological considerations.

Initiation of the Aschaffenburg PAYT system required considerable effort to acquire and process data for billing, accounting, and system optimisation purposes. All bins and containers need to be coded and collection trucks are equipped with a reading device and a weighing device. Data are transferred to a central facility via telemetry in real time, where processing, accounting, and the billing of end users occurs. Aschaffenburg also uses the collected data to measure the economic efficienc y of the system and to optimise the logistics of the system.


Greenhouse gases savings attributable to the reduced treatment of waste and the additional recycling of separated waste fractions by PAYT in Aschaffenburg.


Technical implementation of the PAYT approach is based on the following three pillars: identification of the waste generator, measurement of the amount of waste sent for treatment, and unit pricing, e.g., per kg and/or per emptying. From the technical point of view, the PAYT system can be implemented in any municipality. The weight-based system requires more technical equipment and staff but can achieve very high performance levels. A well-established infrastructure for the collection of the different waste fractions is required, so the citizens can get rid of certain waste fractions in an easy and comfortable way. The environmental awareness of the citizens is also a factor that has to be considered, especially with respect to illegal dumping of waste to save money. In any case, adequate enforcement must be in place.


The experience gained so far reveals that the waste fee should not only depend on the amount of waste generated, but should be comprised of both a basic and a variable (service-based) fee. On the one hand, this reflects the cost structure of waste disposal, which consists of fixed and variable costs, and, on the other hand, the inclusion of a fixed (basic) fee helps to avoid illegal disposal practices which can increase if fees are only levied on collected waste quantities. In the specific case of Aschaffenburg, the fee significantly decreased after the change and once the technology became mature. The disposal

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cost decreased by 46 % initially, especially because the residual waste was incinerated and the incineration costs were high at that time (EUR 232/t in 1997) and decreased to EUR 52.80 in 2014.


Morlok et al., 2017. The Impact of

Pay-As-You-Throw Schemes on Municipal Solid Waste Management: The Exemplar...

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