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New Hampshire's Pay-As-You-Throw Programs Are Reducing Waste By 50 Percent

By Kristin Hunt

In many New Hampshire towns, residents pay a premium for their waste. Since the 1990s, the state has embraced “pay-as-you-throw” trash programs, which charge locals $1-2 for their trash bags. The bags come in different sizes, but they are the only bags the garbage haulers will collect, so they naturally encourage residents to waste less. 

The state capital of Concord adopted this system in 2009, following at least 35 other New Hampshire communities who had enacted similar policies long ago. The city of Dover, for instance, has been paying for throwing since 1991.

But do these pay-as-you-throw programs actually work? According to new research, yes. The University of New Hampshire recently studied 34 programs across the state and found that they significantly reduced trash disposal rates — in some cases, by more than 50 percent.