Pay-as-you-throw trash programs work. Forcing residents to pay for the disposal of the trash that they personally produce cuts down on the amount of waste sent to incinerators and landfills, and increases the amount that is recycled. In the process, it reduces significantly the money a community spends on trash removal.

That’s been true in the dozens of Maine communities that have adopted pay-as-you-throw programs in the last decade-plus.

And for the last year, it’s been true in Waterville.

The money saved and waste diverted in Waterville since pay-as-you-throw was implemented as part of the 2014-15 budget is more than enough to justify keeping the program. Residents should vote no on Question 1 on Tuesday’s ballot, so the trash collection and recycling program can continue to grow and benefit the city.

When all is said and done, in its first year, pay-as-you-throw will provide an additional $430,000 to the city, from money earned through the sale of trash bags and the money saved from the reduced amount of trash the city sends to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington.

In fact, Waterville has reduced its trash tonnage by 55 percent, from 4,400 tons to 2,000 tons.

Both the cost savings and the reduced tonnage exceeded projections. And the numbers will only get better.

Residents naturally will find ways to cut back on trash creation, in order to reduce their own costs, and the city will improve how the program is run.

And when the city’s contract with PERC ends in 2018, the rates will as much as double. At that point, residents do not want to see a trash budget without pay-as-you-throw and recycling.

And municipal trash service should not be seen as the same as fire and police. Anyone may need the latter at any time, through no fault of their own. The amount of trash each resident produces, however, is utterly and entirely up to them. Those who are frugal and conscientious with what they buy, throw away and recycle should benefit, and they should not have pay for residents who are wasteful.

Pay-as-you-throw makes each resident the master of their own trash budget. It creates a greener, healthier, more sustainable community. And it saves everyone money.

The last year in Waterville has shown that to be true. The program should continue.

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