Pay As You Throw FAQ

Pay As You Throw logo

The City of Columbia is implementing a Pay As You Throw (PAYT) model of residential curbside refuse collection in order to improve working conditions for City staff and to encourage waste reduction, reuse and recycling. While weekly residential collection of refuse will remain the same, these new regulations will reduce the potential for large volumes of refuse and large bulky items being placed at the curb for collection. The guidelines continue a refocus in solid waste collection proposed by staff and approved by the City Council in September. In November, the Solid Waste Utility stopped picking up items that were not in garbage bags and began charging for bulky-item pickup.

Some of the many benefits of Pay As You Throw include:

  • This program is intended to create a more equitable system. Traditionally, residential curbside waste collection has been funded through a flat monthly fee, meaning all customers paid the same rate regardless of how much refuse they generated and placed at the curb for disposal. Under the new program, all customers will continue to pay a flat monthly fee that covers the cost of service. Those who dispose of larger amounts of refuse will pay additional fees for collection and disposal. This is similar to other utilities such as water, electric and sewer that have higher charges for customers who consume more of the services.
  • This program is intended to improve the working conditions for the staff that collects the refuse by reducing the potential for excessive volumes of refuse to be placed at the curb for disposal.
  • Columbia’s model encourages waste reduction, reuse, recycling and backyard composting. It is anticipated that the Pay As You Throw program will result in a reduction of curbside refuse of up to approximately 6,000 tons annually. 
  • This program is in alignment with goals included in the City’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan to divert the volume of material being placed into the City’s landfill. 

These changes to refuse collection are being implemented in conjunction with the Solid Waste Utility resumption of curbside recycling collection. Curbside recycling collection will return on an every-other-week basis. Residents will receive a mailer to confirm their scheduled weeks for recycling collection.

Customers have an opportunity to rethink their waste habits by committing to reduction, reuse and composting opportunities. Information on upcoming composting and waste reduction online workshops can be found on the Office of Neighborhood Services website. There are also weekly tips posted on social media.

See below for answers on some of the more common questions about Columbia’s residential refuse collection: