Paying by the Pound: An Examination of the Relationship between Variable-Based Pricing and Municipal Solid Waste Generation in Connecticut
Thomas, Adam T
Despite years of advancing extensive recycling programs, the State of Connecticut'saverage recycling rate has held constant at about 28% for over a decade. This apparent lack of progress has called into question the effectiveness of recycling programs as a mechanism for influencing and directing citizens' behavior. It is possible that changing the current flat-fee pricing structure for the collection and disposal of solid waste to a variable-based model might be a more effective means of decreasing waste generation. Variable-based pricing, a method in which fees are assessed based on the physical weight or volume of trash set out for disposal, is currently incorporated into the waste management system of 32 towns in Connecticut. This paper uses data compiled from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center to compare waste and recycling rates between all 169 Connecticut municipalities. The analysis identified a negative relationship between waste levels and variable-based pricing amongst wealthy communities and a positive relationship between these two variables among low-income towns. I also found that variable-basedpricing and recycling levels are positively related amongst more liberal towns but arenegatively related among more conservative municipalities. Further research is needed todetermine whether these relationships are causal before any policy recommendations can be made.
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