DEEP: Pay-as-you-Throw (PAYT) Programs in Connecticut

SMART Programs In Connecticut
(Save Money And Reduce Trash)
 ? Are you looking for a way to secure adequate funding to pay for your municipality's solid waste management costs without relying on property tax increases? 
 ? Do you want more control over your municipality's spiraling increases in solid waste generation and associated waste management costs? 
 ? Is there room for improvement in your municipality's recycling participation rate or waste reduction efforts?  

If Your Answer to Any of These Questions is YES...then

SMART May Be Your Solution!

What Is SMART?

SMART, also known as Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) and Unit Based Pricing, is a method of charging for trash disposal based on the amount disposed.  A handful of Connecticut municipalities have joined the over 7,000 communities nationwide that have successfully implemented SMART programs. This means that households in their towns are charged for waste collection based on the amount of waste they throw away - in the same way that they are charged for electricity, gas, and other utilities, providing incentives for residents to not only increase the amount they recycle, but also to think about ways to generate less waste in the first place. 

SMART programs are flexible and work in many types of communities at the curb or at the transfer station using variable sized bags or carts.  The pricing of the bags or carts is structured so that residents are incentivized to choose a smaller size, thus reducing the amount of trash generated and increasing composting and recycling.

SMART unit-based pricing is a low-cost strategy that can help Connecticut municipalities achieve the State Solid Waste Management Plan target of doubling the state’s source reduction/recycling rate from 30% (2005 estimated recycling rate) to 58% by 2024. SMART Unit Based Pricing programs really do provide waste management solutions that make economic sense, are fair to residents and benefit the environment.

SMART Saves Money

The U.S. EPA and the Connecticut DEEP are renewing efforts to help towns recognize how much they are currently spending on solid waste disposal and how much they can save in disposal costs by shifting to SMART unit-based pricing. Transparency of solid waste management costs coupled with SMART economic signals (creating a connection between reducing costs and reducing trash) incentivizes households to produce less trash.

Communities that implement unit-based pricing (SMART) programs, typically see a decrease in overall solid waste production, with a final disposal rate of 400-600 pounds per person per year (compared to the national average rate of disposal of 1,124 lbs per person/yr) with associated increases in recycling and source reduction of waste. (EPA )

A 2003 Reason Foundation study found that SMART (PAYT) programs resulted in a 17 percent drop in garbage tonnage, with a significant increase in both recycling and source reduction. Dr. Kenneth Green, the study's project director and chief scientist at the Reason Foundation at the time stated that: "Pay-As-You-Throw programs encourage recycling, composting, and source reduction -- and source reduction is the cheapest waste management strategy. (EPA PAYT Bulletin – Winter 2003 That results in big cost savings to cities and towns, and provides an important ability to control future costs of trash disposal. This can happen in Connecticut cities and towns.

Environmental Benefits of SMART

The increased recycling and source reduction achieved through unit-based pricing not only reduces disposal costs, but is linked to environmental benefits as well – i.e. conservation of natural resources, reduced water use, reduced emissions of air and water pollutants, energy savings, reduction in green house emissions, etc.  A 2006 EPA SMART report concluded that:  PAYT programs currently operating in the US are leading to reductions of: 2.1-3.8 million metric tons of carbon equivalents annually.”

The EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) will allow you to calculate the environmental benefits of increasing your municipality’s source reduction and recycling rates.

Resources to Help Municipalities Implement a SMART Program

The following resources can help you: (1) decide if SMART Unit Based Pricing is the right solution for your municipality and (2) implement a SMART program in your city or town if you decide to do so.

The U.S. EPA has prepared factsheets and implementation tools which are available free to any town interested in Unit Based Pricing design and implementation. To find out more about EPA’s collection of products, visit their PAYT website.
  • SMART BET  (Saving Money And Reducing Trash Benefit Evaluation Tool) - A tool designed to help community waste managers decide whether unit-based pricing (PAYT) for solid waste management is the right model for their town or city.  (EPA)

SMART BET Tool Users Need the Following Minimum Information:

  • The population to be affected by PAYT
  • Tons of waste disposed (i.e., landfilled or combusted) for the PAYT population
  • Tons of waste recycled and composted for the PAYT population
  • Disposal cost per ton (landfill tipping fee or combustion facility fee)
  • Cost of recycling per ton

Additional Information That Can Refine the Results:

  • Indicate if waste is sent to a landfill or a combustor
  • The distance in miles to the landfill or combustion facility
  • The composition of the disposal stream in percent by weight of various material types
  • The composition of the recycling/composting stream in percent by weight of various material types


  • Connecticut DEEP SMART (PAYT) Implementation Handbook - The DEEP SMART (PAYT) Implementation Handbook is a step-by-step guide to assist municipal officials in implementing a Unit Based Pricing program.  Several worksheets are available to assist communities in exploring how unit-based pricing might work in your community.
Worksheet 1: Identifying Program Goals
Worksheet 2: Municipal Profile
Worksheet 3: Political Considerations
Worksheet 4: Container and Pricing Choices
Worksheet 5: Rate Structure
Worksheet 6: Potential Barriers
Worksheet 7: Public Outreach
Worksheet 8: Implementation Checklist
Worksheet 9: Monitoring and Evaluation

  • SMART Implementation Guidebooks for Specific Connecticut Municipalities - These guidebooks provide examples of how SMART programs could be implemented and benefit Connecticut municipalities.  They were prepared by Kristen Brown of Green Waste Solutions, a SMART unit-based-pricing consultant to US EPA and the DEEP. 
Bridgeport  SMART Guidebook
Darien SMART Guidebook
Easton  SMART Guidebook
Greenwich  SMART Guidebook
Milford  SMART Guidebook
Monroe  SMART Guidebook 
Norwalk SMART Guidebook
Orange  SMART Guidebook
Shelton  SMART Guidebook
Trumbull  SMART Guidebook
Weston  SMART Guidebook 
Westport  SMART Guidebook
A list of Massachusetts State contracted vendors of SMART Unit Based Pricing bags can be accessed on the Massachusetts DEP website.
  • Making the Case for SMART Materials Management (PDF, 2,200K) – A CT DEEP prepared presentation used to provide an overview of materials management in CT and provide case studies for why the Save Money and Reduce Trash program works for any municipality.  Can be used to make the case for changing how municipal solid waste is managed to residents, civic groups, or town officials.

  • Pay-As-You-Throw, An Integrated Approach to Solid Waste Management (PDF, 529K) - A DEEP prepared presentation that explains the basics of PAYT concepts; economic, equity and environmental benefits; program planning, etc. Can be used to introduce PAYT to residents, civic groups or town officials.

  • SMART Waste Management - Redefining the Way Connecticut Residents Value Trash (PDF, 2.2MB) - A 2009 presentation prepared by Kristen Brown of Green Waste Solutions gives an overview of the success of SMART in New England and around the world.  It summarizes the customized technical assistance provided to Bridgeport area towns during 2009 through CT's partnership with US EPA to encourage towns to get SMART about their solid waste management. Slide #35 has estimates of how much each town is projected to save by reducing their disposal costs for their trash.

  • City of Torrington, Unit Pricing Municipal Solid Waste, PAYT (PDF, 607K) - A comprehensive presentation prepared in 2000 by the solid waste manager for the city of Torrington.  This presentation explains in an easy to understand way, the entire waste and recycling management system in the city as it existed in 2000, including current costs and projected savings through PAYT.  Although some of the figures would need to be updated to reflect today's conditions, it still can be used as a model for other towns when presenting this kind of information to town officials and residents.

  • SMART Waste Management to Reduce Disposal and Increase Recycling - Diane Duva, DEEP, EPA Webinar, April 2009

  • SMART Waste Management: Changing the Way American's Value Trash - Kristen Brown, Green Waste Solutions, EPA Webinar, April 2009

Connecticut Towns That Have Implemented Some Form of SMART

Feel free to contact CT municipalities which have implemented SMART programs and learn from their experiences.  Those that the Department are aware of are listed below.  When reviewing these programs, please keep in mind that a SMART program is most effective when (1) most of the households in a municipality participate in the program and (2) when the cost structure is designed to provide a real incentive to reduce the amount of trash disposed.


Brief Program Description  

Mike Flanagan
Transfer Station Contact
Phone:  203-778-7436     

A SMART program at the transfer station has been in place since 1994. In addition to an annual TS permit fee of $50.00, there is a $0.20 per lb charged for trash delivered to the TS. (In 1994 the cost per lb. was $0.04). A senior citizen TS permit rate is offered for $40.00.  There is no charge for recyclables.

Approximately 6% of residents use the transfer station with over 1,300 permits issued in 2011. 

 Transfer Station  

Abigail Croteau
Dept. of Town Manager
Phone:  860-769-3585 

See Windsor – Bloomfield residents can bring trash to the Windsor Bloomfield landfill – but there is a SMART program only for those without an annual use permit.

Brookfield See New Milford - Brookfield residents can bring trash and recyclables to the New Milford transfer station.

Michael Barry (Volunteer)
Chairman of Brooklyn Resource Recovery Commission
Phone:  N/A

The town offers a SMART program (has been in place for approximately 18 yrs) at their transfer station. There is no annual or permit fee. Residents have a choice of 2 bag sizes:

  • 30 to 40 gallon/50 pound bags @ $2.00 per bag or 5 bags for $10.00; and
  • 17-gallon bags @ $1.75 per bag or 5 bags for $8.75
Approximately 52% of residents use the transfer station.
 Transfer Station  

Peter Neff
Director of Public Works 
Phone:  860-664-1100     

Town has had a SMART program at their transfer station for Clinton residents since 1997. Residential passes for MSW disposal:

  • A pass for twenty 30 gallon bags is $30.00; the pass is good for two months.
  • A pass for more than twenty 30 gallon bags in a two-month time period is $60.00.
Approximately 30% of residents use the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

James Paggioli
Director of Public Works 
Phone:  860-537-7288

Residents are offered a SMART program at the transfer station and pay $3.00 per 25 to 30-gallon bag.

Approximately 35% of residents use the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

Donna Wrubel, Public Works
Phone: 860-742-6588

The town has operated a curbside bag program since July 30, 1993 ($0.50 for a 13-gallon bag; and $1.00 for a 33-gallon bag).  In November 2010, the town switched to variable cart sizes offered to all residences up to 3 units, curbside.  Various sizes of recycling bins are included in the annual cost for service for residential MSW disposal:

  • A 35-gallon MSW cart costs $170 annually;
  • A 65-gallon MSW cart costs $200 annually;
  • A 95-gallon MSW cart costs $250 annually.

 Transfer Station  

David Day
Public Utilities Superintendent
Phone: 203-797-4539

Residents are offered a SMART program at the transfer station for drop-off of household trash;

  • 13-gallon bag $2.00;
  • 30-gallon bag $3.00;
  • 40-gallon bag $4.00;
  • 50-gallon bag $5.00;
  • 55-gallon bag $6.00.

Residents must have a permit to use the "Mom & Pop Drop-Off Center".
 Transfer Station  

Mike Birner
Recycling Contact
Phone:  860-767-1926

Residents are offered a SMART program at the transfer station/ landfill: $3.00 per bag (must use 33-gallon or smaller plastic bags). Stickers for bags may be purchased in strips of 10 for $25.00.

Approximately 44% of residents use the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

Michael Zembruski
Director of Solid Waste & Recycling
Phone:  203-256-3023     

Residents have option to drop off trash at the transfer station. There is an annual combination permit of $20.00 to use the transfer station and town beaches. The cost for MSW drop-off at the transfer station:

  • Up to 200 gallons (about 125 pounds or one cubic yard) - $5.00;
  • 201 gallons to 400 gallons (up to about 250 pounds) - $10.00;
  • Over 400 gallons or 250 pounds- $5.00 per 100 pound increment 

The program has been in effect since 1985.
 Transfer Station  

Jim Portley
Town Engineer
Phone:  203-453-8029

The transfer station is available for drop-off to all residents.  The transfer station is also available to Madison residents. The cost for dumping 100 pounds is $7.00. There are no additional fees.  The program has been in effect since the opening of the transfer station in 1981.

Approximately 50% of Guilford residents and 10% of Madison residents use the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

James Klase, Public Works
Phone: 860-653-8960

Granby implemented a curbside SMART program on June 29, 2009.  Granby residents get a 65-gallon container for trash (cost included in the tax base). Residents that exceed the 65-gallon trash container may purchase special town-issued trash bags for $2 each. Residents also have the option to rent an additional 65-gallon container for trash at the rate of $200.00 per year.
100% of residents participate in the curbside program.
 Transfer Station  

Town Manager
Phone: 860-774-8601

Killingly has had a SMART program at their transfer station since November 1998. All residents who want to dispose of household waste are required to use disposal stickers or plastic bags.  

  • No bag larger than 35 gallons may be utilized to dispose of household trash.  
  • Stickers are available for $2.50 each at Town Hall and at some local businesses.
 Transfer Station  

Dennis Roberts
Solid Waste/Recycling Coordinator
Phone: 860-642-7901

Program started in 1993.  Only pertains to residents bringing trash to the transfer station.  A 15-gallon bag is $1.00 and a 30-gallon bag is $2.00.  No special bags or stickers are used.

Approximately 35% of residents use the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

Madison See Guilford - Madison residents can bring trash and recyclables to the Guilford/Madison transfer station.

Ginny Walton
Recycling Coordinator
Phone: 860-429-3333

Mansfield has had a curbside program in effect since 1990. Trash pick-up is contracted by the municipality to private haulers; one hauler for single-family households and one for multi-family households.

Levels of service for single family residences include:

  • One 13-gallon bag per week - $11.75/month
  • One 20-gallon can per week -$15.25/month
  • One 35-gallon can per week - $21.75/month
  • Two 35-gallon cans per week - $27.50/month
  • Four 35-gallon cans per week - $34.00/month
  • Backyard (in-yard) pick-up is an additional $12.50 extra per month for a driveway 300 feet or less or $16.25 extra per month for a driveway greater than 300 feet.
Residents also have an option to self-haul MSW to the transfer station which operates off the following volume-based fees:
  • $3.50 for a 35-gallon bag;
  • $7.00 for a 35-gallon can;
  • $9.00 for a 55-gallon drum or $4.50 for less than ˝ full;
  • $35.00 for one cubic yard;
  • $70.00 for 2 cubic yards; and
  • $140.00 for 4 cubic yards.
Approximately 45% of residents subscribe to curbside pick-up service and 25% of residents use the transfer station.
 Transfer Station  

Douglas Arndt
Director of Public Works
Phone:  203-452-8625

Monroe has a SMART program for trash delivered to their transfer station. One ticket costs $6.00 and covers 125 pounds.
 Transfer Station  

New Fairfield
Robert Rzasa
Director of Public Works
Phone:  203-312-5629

Residents may drop-off trash at the transfer station for a fee of:

  • $1.50 per 13-gallon bag;
  • $3.00 per 30-gallon bag; and
  • $6.00 for cans, lawn and leaf bags 
Transfer station users must also obtain a permit for $10.00 for residential customers and $50.00 for commercial customers.  A senior citizen transfer station permit rate is offered for $5.00.
Approximately 8% of residents use the transfer station and over 1,200 permits were issued in 2011. 
 Transfer Station  

New Milford
John Balasa
Recycling Coordinator
Phone:  860-355-6040

The recycling center provides drop-off options for trash and recyclables for residents and small businesses from New Milford, Brookfield and Sherman. There is an annual use fee of $20.00 for residents, and a fee per bag for trash dropped off.

The cost per average garbage bag is:

  • Up to 15 gallons - $1.50 New Milford residents; $2.00 Sherman or Brookfield residents
  • 15 to 39 gallons - $3 New Milford residents; $3.00 Sherman or Brookfield residents
  • 40+gallons - $5.00 New Milford residents; $5.50 Sherman or Brookfield residents
 Transfer Station  

Richard Kelsey
DPW Director of Operations
Phone: 860-342-6733

Portland has had a SMART program at their transfer station since April 1993.  Residents pay:

  • $5.00 for a 45 gallon bag;
  • $4.00 for a 30-gallon bag; and
  • $1.00 for a 15 gallon bag
Approximately 50% of residents use the transfer station.
 Transfer Station  
Gerald Beausoleil
Director of DPW
Phone: 860-963-6813
Putnam started their SMART program in July 1997. Town contracts with private hauler for curbside MSW collection for all residential houses six-family and less.  Residents purchase stickers to place on trash bags.
  • Stickers for a 13 to 20-gallon bag cost $.50 and
  • Stickers for a 30 to 35-gallon bag cost $1.00.
The revenue from stickers is deposited in an enterprise fund which covers the costs of MSW disposal tipping fees.
 Transfer Station  

Lawrence Kulowiec
Recycling Coordinator
Phone:  203-938-3026

Redding residents are charged $0.20 per pound for MSW disposal which is measured on a small platform scale at the transfer station .  Residents are required to purchase an annual permit for $25.00 for one car and $10.00 for each additional car.  The senior citizen rate is $10.00 for the first car and $5.00 for each additional car.

Approximately 30% of households have a permit for the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

Rudy Marconi
1st Selectman
Phone:  203-431-2774
Fax:  203-431-2311

Ridgefield provides a SMART program located at the transfer station.  There is a $/pound cost to drop-off household garbage:

  • Passenger vehicles - $5.00 for 120 pounds or less;
  • Trucks, and/or passenger vehicles with more than 120 pounds of garbage are charged at the rate of $0.04/pound or $83.60 per ton. 

Approximately 37% of residents use the transfer station and 675 permits were issued in 2011. There is a mandatory minimum charge of $5.00.  This program has been offered since early 1980’s. 
 Transfer Station  

Sherman See New Milford - Sherman residents can bring trash and recyclables to the New Milford transfer station.
South Windsor
Frederick Shaw
Superintendent of Pollution Control
Phone:  860-644-2511 ext. 247
South Windsor contracts with a private hauler that offers a 64 gallon and 96 gallon option for MSW curbside pickup, of which disposal and collection costs are included in residential property taxes.  In the mid 1990's, South Windsor began charging residents $139.00 to cover the costs of disposal and collection for each additional container for MSW.  Trash disposal dropped dramatically and households with additional containers reduced from 1,200 to 400.
 Transfer Station  

Catherine A. Osten
First Selectman
Phone: 860-822-3000

The SMART program has been in place since 1993 and involves only those residents whose trash goes to the transfer station .

  • A "sleeve" of five large bags (30 to 33-gallon) costs $6.25
  • A "sleeve" of five small bags (13 to15-gallon) costs $3.00
 Transfer Station  

Roger DalPian, Jr.
Dept. of Public Works
Phone: 860-684-3448

As of November 1 2006, all residents who go to the transfer station must use town-issued trash bags. There are two sizes of bags available:

  • 33-gallon bag that comes in packs of 10 for $12.50
  • 15-gallon bag that comes in packs of 10 for $6.50 

Any trash not placed in a town-issued bag will be required to go to a scale and is charged $0.05 per pound for disposal.

Approximately 90% of residents use the transfer station.

 Transfer Station  

Roxanne Gray
Secretary to the Voluntown First Selectmen
Phone: 860-376-5880 

In April 1997 the Towns of Sterling and Voluntown joined the growing cadre of Connecticut Communities with pay-per-bag municipal solid waste (MSW) pricing. These towns opened a new, two-town transfer station in the Fall of 1994. It soon became apparent that the facility was receiving ever increasing amounts of garbage. The difficulty of policing out-of-town garbage and poor recycling compliance led these towns’ transfer station commission to institute a direct economic solution. Following informational meetings and public votes, both towns agreed to make major changes to the way payment for trash disposal was handled.  Sterling and Voluntown residents are required to purchase a $35 annual permit for access to the transfer station.  Residents dispose of MSW in bags purchased at the transfer station:

  • A 30-gallon bag costs $1.50
 Transfer Station  
John Phetteplace
Recycling Coordinator
Phone: 860-535-5099 
This municipality has had this system in place since September 1992. The original program covered residential customers for the whole town.

Residents pay:

  • $0.75 for a 15-gallon bag; and
  • $1.25 for a 33-gallon bag.

The funds raised are used to cover program expenses, collection costs, and to pay the $60.00/ton tipping fee charged at the regional trash-to-energy plant. It did go to referendum as to whether or not the town would continue with this system. Residents voted almost 2:1 to keep the program.

Recently, Stonington contracted-out commercial trash hauling as well and the non-residential sector is now also covered by a PAYT program . 1) There has been no increase in illegal dumping since the program began; residents have actually commented that "things are cleaner" since the program was implemented; and 2) recycling figures are up since the onset of this program.
 Transfer Station  

Doreen Zaback
Resource Recovery Project Coordinator
Phone:  203-294-2060

Wallingford has a SMART program at their municipal transfer station. Residents pay:

  • $2.22 for each container of trash (30 gallons or less or 40 pounds or less) delivered to the transfer station.
  • Materials not placed in such containers are weighed to determine cost of disposal.
  • Senior citizens and others who have Medicare are eligible for free coupons with purchase of a $5 use permit.  

It is estimated that approximately 2,500 households utilize the transfer station.
 Transfer Station  

Roy Cavanaugh
Director of Public Works
Phone:  860-945-5240

Watertown has a SMART program located at the transfer station.  Each resident must also obtain an annual use permit at $20.00.  The program has been available since their landfill closed and a transfer station was built.  The following is a list of pricing for the drop-off of household trash:

  • $2.00 for each 15-gallon bag;
  • $3.00 for each 30-gallon bag;
  • $10.00 a load for compact station wagons/cars delivering trash;
  • station wagons, sports utility type vehicles, mini pick-up trucks is $10.00 per ˝ load; $15.00 for vehicles loaded to the top of the vehicles sides; $25.00 if it is greater than vehicles sides; or
  • Pick-up trucks and vans are $10.00 per ˝ load, $20 for vehicles loaded to the top of vehicles sides; and $30.00 for vehicles loaded greater than vehicle sides.  

Approximately 3% of residents use the transfer station.
 Transfer Station  

Robert Nilsen
Transfer Station Operator
Phone:  203-222-2668

Weston has a program in place at the transfer station . Residents must purchase stickers at $1.50 for a 30 pound bag of MSW.  Recyclables are free. All haulers are also charged per pound for MSW being sent to the transfer station. We have found that this process greatly encourages better recycling and source reduction.

Approximately 10% of residents use the transfer station for MSW.

 Transfer Station  

Jennifer Fascitelli
Phone: 203-563-0152

Program only pertains to residents bringing their trash to the town transfer station. Residents must purchase tickets to dispose of MSW.
  • One ticket is required per 32 gallon bag.
  • Tickets cost $4.00 per ticket or for residents over 65 years of age the cost is $3.00 per ticket.
 Transfer Station  

Mark Goossens
Solid Waste Manager
Phone:  860-285-1832

There is a SMART program for only for the Windsor and Bloomfield residents and businesses which do not buy an annual use permit:

  • Car or pickup truck permit costs $77.00 per year;
  • Car or pickup truck per trip (without a permit) costs $3.00 per load up to 100 pounds, then an additional $0.033 per pound (3.3 cents); and
  • Vehicles other than a pickup truck or car are charged $68.00 per ton
 Landfill - some    

DEEP Contacts

If you have any questions or if you are interested in learning more about SMART, please contact Jennifer Weymouth at (860) 424-3508.

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Content Last Updated March 26, 2015