Pay-by-weight allows the customer to affect their own cost for waste management; less waste generated equals lower bill. This becomes an incentive to climb the waste hierarchy by increasing material recycling. Besides being kind to the environment this also leads to less cost for waste management for the municipality. A study has shown that the 30+ municipalities in Sweden that have introduced pay-by-weight have seen a decrease of residual waste by 30% in average.

With the data from automatic collection recording and weighing, the transition from volume based fee to weight based fee becomes easier. More than 30 municipalities in Sweden use weight-based fee for residual waste, and in some cases also for bio-waste. It is common that municipalities that doesn’t use weight-based fee in general still charge by weight for containers and underground bins.

Weight-based fee works like a economical instrument and allows the customer to influence the cost for waste management. The end-customer pays for her usage of the collection and waste management system. The more waste generated, the more she has to pay, which creates an incentive to do more of material recycling and therefore climb the waste hierarchy.

Municipalities that have introduced weight-based fee have done so for various reasons. Some of the recurring reasons is to want to reduce the amount of residual and bio-waste, increase sorting of packaging, newspapers and bio-waste, good statistics and fair charging. Reduced amount of household waste for incineration and waste-to-energy contributes to lower costs for treatment for the municipality, which provides room for lowering the cost for the households.

Studies made both in Sweden and abroad shows that the amount of collected residual waste significantly decreases after introducing weight-based fee. According to a study conducted at Stockholm University, it is in Sweden in average 30% less household waste in municipalities using pay-by-weight compared to other municipalities in the country.

After the introduction, the waste volumes increases at the same rate as the general increase that comes with economical growth. This means that the reduction is permanent.

When there are economic incentives for reducing waste and the residual waste decreasing, a study conducted by IVL Swedish Environmental Institute shows that the reduction is primarily because of increased material recycling. The study also shows that problems with increased littering are marginal, which has previously been a concern.

How the fee is constructed can vary. Some municipalities have a variable fee for bio-waste, that sometimes is equal to the fee for residual waste, while some do not use weight-based fee for bio-waste at all. For residual waste it is common that there is a fixed fee related to the size of the bin, together with the variable fee based on weight. The price, in the municipalities that have introduced pay-by-weight, varies from 0,2-0,6 EUR.

Please contact us for more information and references about waste recording and weighing.