3. Implementing PAYT

3. Implementing PAYT

Designing a well-planned implementation strategy addressing P&E, messaging, scheduling and tag/bag distribution is essential to ensuring community support and acceptance. This section deals with the challenges of:

  1. P&E Methods – Inform the public well in advance of the PAYT launch, using a variety of sources to distribute information and messages that resonate with them.
  2. P&E Scheduling – Residents will need ample time to prepare for the PAYT program.
  3. Easing in PAYT – Introducing policies such as grace periods, courtesy tags, and other measures will help residents transition to a new PAYT program.
  4. Tag/Bag Distribution – As part of PAYT implementation, it is important to decide where residents will purchase the tags/bags and how they are distributed to the outlets.

For more information, refer to the CIF, P&E tools and guidance pages.  Public education programs play a critical role during the early stages of PAYT.  Focus on a widespread, consistent, recurring combination of printed materials, advertisements, social media, municipal web pages and hotlines, typically including:

  • Annual waste guides and calendars,
  • Waste diversion newsletters,
  • Radio public service announcements and/or paid advertisements,
  • Brochures,
  • Newspaper articles,
  • Social media (Facebook, twitter, emails) and
  • TV public service announcement spots.

Develop a communication strategy that is flexible, consistent and accommodates several communication methods and media sources to ensure reaching different age groups. Successful municipalities make heavy use of public service announcements.

Depending on the age group, the following communication methods are identified as better practices:

  • Seniors (age 75+) – prefer traditional sources of information including direct mail, brochures, newsletters, newspapers
  • Baby Boomers (age 55 to 74) – “time starved” boomers prefer short and to-the-point communications, including direct print and emails
  • Generation “X” (age 40 to 54) – preferences are similar to baby boomers, but they make more use of technology. Gen Xers prefer more communication by email and online
  • Millennials/Gen Y (age 20 to 35) – place great value in technology and prefer text messaging to emails and phone calls

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Messages can include reasons for introducing PAYT like financial, extending landfill life, waste diversion goals, etc. Residents also need to be educated on available alternative waste diversion services provided by the municipality.

Case Study

City of Barrie

Barrie found that its annual waste calendar was considered the most effective P&E method for introducing a PAYT program and other waste diversion programs/policies. The City produced a waste booklet with calendar and waste management information including a waste guide and newsletter. The package was distributed in a local community paper. The City’s approach received good feedback.

The PAYT program was not implemented for financial reasons but rather to increase waste diversion. Prior to the program, there was no bag limit for waste. P&E messages included, extend landfill to 2026, increase participation in other diversion programs, increase public education, make those who generate more waste pay (equity issue), reduce total cost of waste management and reduce waste.

Case Study

Region of Waterloo

In March 2017, the Region implemented a partial 4 bag (bi-weekly) PAYT program and explained its decision by publishing the following messages and information on its website:

To preserve resources and protect the environment

  • Prior to March, we conducted a waste audit and found that 53% (by weight) of residential waste going to the landfill could have gone in the Green Bin, and 14% of it could have gone in the Blue Box. These organic and recyclable materials are valuable resources and should not be buried in the landfill. As found in other municipalities, bi-weekly waste collection presented the best opportunity to divert these resources for beneficial re-use:
    • Food waste can be turned into beneficial compost for farmers’ fields, offsetting the need for commercial fertilizers and their potential environmental impacts.
    • Paper, metal and plastic can all be turned into valuable new products.
  • Better air quality:
    • Other municipalities identified a decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with waste collection every second week, due to fewer trucks on the road.
    • The organics wasted in our landfill generate methane, a greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming.

To reduce costs and preserve our community asset: the landfill

  • A new waste collection contract started in March, 2017 and is expected to save approximately $2.4 million dollars each year. Savings were achieved by Regional Council’s decision to tender a contract that included waste collection every two weeks, thereby reducing the number of waste trucks needed and all the costs associated with running those trucks over the term of the contract. Regional Council, as part of their budget process deliberations, will decide how and where the cost savings will be applied.
  • We only have 15 to 20 years of capacity remaining in our one-and-only landfill. The cost to site and build another facility, (if another landfill could even be sited/permitted) will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • When the Blue Box, Green Bin and other diversion programs are fully used by citizens, only a small amount of waste requires curbside pick-up for disposal in the landfill.

Residents and waste management staff need ample time to prepare for the PAYT launch. Begin messages at least 3 months prior to implementation, followed by regular promotional information several months prior to and after the launch. Tags/bags need to be available long before the transition date to prevent shopper shortages and the resultant complaints to Council.

Halton Region developed a detailed P&E schedule for the pre-launch, launch and post-launch of their bag tag policy, as follows:

3 months prior to launch
  • Waste Management Guide and Collection Calendar.
  • Media release and proactive media relations (ongoing).
2 months prior to launch
  • Comprehensive Communication Plan Commences.
  • WasteLess Newsletter – discusses 3 Bag Limit, Expanded Blue Box, Complimentary Bag Tag Pick-Up Locations.
1 month prior to launch
  • Direct mail to homes with 1 Blue Box “acceptable materials” sticker and 1 complimentary waste tag.
At time of launch
  • Comprehensive Communication Plan Commences with;
  • WasteLess Newsletter – discusses 3 Bag Limit, expanded Blue Box, Complimentary bag tag pick-up locations, truckload event locations.
4 months after
  • Repeat WasteLess Newsletter – discusses 3 Bag Limit, expanded Blue Box, complimentary bag tag pick-up locations.

i. Grace Periods

Communities often allow a grace period (soft start) for residents to adjust to the new PAYT policy by notifying residents of a problem for the first several collection days and eventually leaving the waste behind. An “oops” sticker should be attached to the bag left behind explaining why.

Case Study

Halton Region 

When Halton introduced its bag tag policy, it gave residents time to adjust. For the first two waste collection days after the launch of the 3 bags free limit policy, the Region’s waste collection contractor placed “Sorry” stickers on any waste bags over the limit that did not display a tag. Bags received courtesy collection the following day. At the same time, staff delivered an information kit to those households where they observed the 3 bag limit was being exceeded and tags were not used.

After the first two weeks, the bags were stickered but not collected. Staff continued to visit residents with problem set outs.

ii. Explaining How to Use Tags

Reduce problems for staff and residents by making sure that residents understand how to use the tags properly prior to launch. Simple instructions can be added to the back of the tags, written into notices, public service announcements, newsletters and added to the waste management web pages.

The City of Stratford, on its waste collection webpage, asks residents to:

  • Wrap the tag around the neck of a bag or the handle of a can. Tags will be thrown out with the bag or torn off the handle of a can each time it is set out.
  • Stick the tag to itself; do not stick it flat on the surface of the bag.
  • The tag is not a twist tie, so do not try to tie your bag with it.

If residents use a waste can or cart, ask them to affix the tags on the top bag of waste in the can or cart. Collection crews need to immediately see the tag upon lifting the lid and tossing the tag with the bag saves crews time and litter by not having to rip tags off container handles.

iii. Providing Courtesy Tags at Policy Launch*

Providing some courtesy tags to residents at the launch of the PAYT policy helps them transition into full compliance.  The number of courtesy tags can range from 2 to 10, depending on the community, e.g.

  • Niagara Region provided 2 free tags.
  • Region of Peel provided 12 free tags.
  • Durham Region provided 10 free tags.
  • Halton Region provided 30 free tags, with an expiry date.

*Most communities do not have an expiry date on free tags

*The City of Barrie chose not to issue courtesy tags but introduced the first month as a grace period in which collection crews would collect the untagged bag and leave a notice behind explaining the policy.

There are 2 common approaches to tag/bag distribution:

  • Distributing the tags/bags to retailers/municipal facilities (outlets) who resell them to residents.
  • Distribution of tags directly to residents.

i. Selling Tags/Bags Through Outlets

Most communities distribute tags/bags to outlets to be resold to residents. Typically, the outlets will be centrally located to a majority of residents and visited frequently. Making access to tags/bags as convenient as possible for residents is critical, especially in communities with full PAYT policies. Common outlets used by municipalities include:

  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Hardware stores
  • Gas stations
  • Libraries
  • Town halls/municipal offices
  • Waste management facilities (e.g. landfill, transfer stations)

Examples of locations used by municipalities:

  • Wellington County (full PAYT) sells bags through 61 outlets including grocery stores, pharmacies and municipal offices in all the towns
  • City of Barrie (partial 1 bag PAYT) sells tags through 23 outlets including grocery stores, convenience store, hardware stores and community centers
  • Owen Sound (full PAYT) sells tags through 11 outlets including City Hall & Public Works offices, library, grocery stores and two convenience stores
  • Richmond Hill (partial 1.5 bag PAYT) sells tags though 16 locations including arenas, libraries, municipal offices and communication centers

ii. Ordering Tags On-Line

Halton and Peel Region allow residents to order tags on-line or by phone, which provides added convenience and enhanced customer service. On-line tag sales account for 12% and 13% respectively of total tag sales. All tags are mailed or couriered to the resident.

Many waste management departments enlist their finance department to assume responsibility for the distribution of the tags and invoicing vendors. Tags are typically couriered to the individual vendors, with invoices issued or direct payment required.

Simcoe County advises to make sure that there are lots of outlets and lots of stock available to sell to those outlets. It helps to have an idea how many tags the outlets should sell initially, especially since there will be more tags sold during run-up to launch of the policy. Work closely with vendors initially until demand for tags/bags stabilizes. Outlets running out of tags is a sure way to create lots of complaints from residents.

iii. Compensation for Retailers 

Municipalities often financially compensate retailers by allowing them to keep some of the sale price of the tag/bag. Retailers also benefit from the additional traffic and sales of other products.

Some compensation examples include:

  • $0.20/tag – Niagara Region, Region of Peel, Simcoe County
  • $0.25/tag – Halton Region
  • City of Barrie, at launch of the policy, retailers were not compensated financially but their company names were identified in the waste calendar and they were provided with a sign to put in their window. The City continues the practice but also identifies the retailers on the City’s website
  • Wellington County sells bags at waste facilities, some municipal offices and a number of retailers. Retailers must sign a vendor agreement, (click here for a sample copy), and receive a 5% administration fee. Bags are delivered to retailers and municipal facilities using County staff. They are sold to retailers in cases, (20 packages/case)

iv. Distribution Directly to Residents

Some communities choose to provide some free tags/bags to residents at the beginning of each year, especially during the first years of PAYT, which is thought to ease residents into using the tags and reduce concerns about the cost of the policy. This approach allows residents to save tags for the future and use them when deemed necessary. Municipalities may directly distribute tags by inclusion with;

  • utility bills
  • tax notices
  • waste management calendars
  • direct mail
  • community service organizations, e.g. scouts, guides, charitable canvassers

Case Study

Town of Hanover

The Town first implemented a partial PAYT policy in 1996. Residents were issued 52 tags for use throughout the year. A tag was required on every bag set out for collection. The first bag was therefore deemed “free” and thereafter residents were required to purchase a $1 tag for each additional bag of waste set out.

The success of the partial PAYT resulted in Hanover implementing a full pay policy in January 2007. With the launch, the cost of the tag remained a $1 for a number of years. Over time, the Town increased the tag price to $2/tag and now requires residents to set out waste in clear bags.

City of Orillia

Since 1997, Orillia has distributed 50 tags annually to residents and commercial businesses receiving city collection services. All bags of waste must have a tag affixed. In 1999, residents started receiving 40 waste tags annually. Since 2017, each residential and commercial unit receives 20 tags. Additional tags must be purchased at $2/each.

Curve Lake First Nation

Residents are provided 105 tags annually. Residents are limited to 2 bags set out weekly but can purchase additional tags for excess bags taken to the landfill.