It may seem intuitive, but creating a waste management program that rewards people for producing less trash is very uncommon. In fact, our community was the first cart based PAYT program in the state, celebrating over 20 years of success.
Alachua County’s PAYT program was successful almost immediately. In one year, the county’s recycling rate increased by 25% and waste generation decreased dramatically. Significant reductions were made in waste generation, energy use and carbon emissions through reduced trips to the landfill.
In the late 90’s, the last public landfill in the county closed. A new landfill site was determined, but the project was stopped by protests from the surrounding neighborhood. Instead, the county built a transfer station and began sending waste to a regional landfill in Union County.
The industry has carefully conserved landfill space through increased waste reduction efforts and efficiency; however, Alachua County is still producing 500-700 tons of waste daily. Building new landfills is becoming harder to accomplish—nobody wants a landfill in their backyard. The reality is that many landfills are closing, and they are not being replaced with new facilities. We believe recycling our waste and rethinking the idea of “trash” is essential to extending the life of our landfills. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.