All-In-One Pay As You Throw (PAYT)

NOTICE:  Due to COVID-19 and the economic hardship facing many in our community, the City of Brewer has temporarily suspended its Pay As You Throw trash program. Effective March 30 through the end of May, household trash and recycling placed curbside does not need an orange Brewer trash tag. 

What is All-In-One collection?

Also referred to as commingled collection, residents put all waste and recyclables into the same bag and place it curbside for weekly collection. There is no need to put recycling in a separate container.

Trash and recycling is sorted on site by Coastal Resources, which recovers, recycles, and converts up to 80% of the wasted materials thrown out each week. Marketable recyclables are pulled out, and recovered parts of trash are converted into products such as pulp, ethanol and biogas; plastics are converted into “briquettes” that can be used for fuel; and solubilized food waste is processed through anaerobic digestion.  Learn more here.

What is Pay As You Throw?

Under a Pay As You Throw (PAYT) solid waste program, households are charged for refuse collection based on the amount they throw away, providing a direct economic incentive for residents to reduce waste and dispose of less.

How does PAYT work?

Residents buy City approved tags, which are available at various Brewer locations, and place one tag around each bag they put out curbside for collection.  Our waste hauler, Pine Tree, is instructed to pick up only bags with the official orange City of Brewer tags.

Where can I buy tags?

Tags are sold at the following Brewer locations:

Big Apple (S. Main St. and Wilson St.)
Brewer City Hall
Brewer IGA
Brewer Public Library
Leadbetter’s Super Stop
Paradis Shop N Save
Tiller & Rye
Tozier’s Market

Tags are also available by mail:

You can purchase trash tags online by clicking here.  Or residents can mail payment to City Hall, 80 N. Main St, Brewer 04412, or leave payment in the drop box located outside the lower level door of City Hall. Please include your name, mailing address, and a phone number. A sheet of 5 tags costs $10.00.

How much do the tags cost?

Tags cost $2.00 a piece.  Each sheet of 5 tags costs $10.00.
*Not subject to sales tax. City pays the sales tax on behalf of residents.

How do I put a tag on a bag?

The tags are stickers and are about 7” long by 1.5” high. You remove the backing and wrap the sticker around the neck of the garbage bag and stick the two ends to each other like this:

Can I put a tag on a trash barrel or container?


Can I put my bags in a trash can or other container at the curb?

Yes.  But every bag in the container must have its own Brewer tag affixed to it.

What needs to be in bags affixed with tags?

All household waste you wish to dispose of must be in a bag with an official Brewer tag except cardboard, which Pine Tree will pick up for free if neatly stacked and placed alongside your bag(s).

What do I do with my recycling?

Because the Coastal facility in Hampden recycles and converts up to 80% of the all of the material it receives, there is no need to separate out “recyclables” from trash. All items you want to dispose of will go in bags affixed with official Brewer tags.  Learn more about the Coastal process here.

How will bulky cardboard fit in a bag without it tearing?

Cardboard, if neatly stacked and bundled, can be placed alongside properly tagged trash bags, and it will be picked up weekly, free of charge.

What does “neatly stacked and bundled” mean?

With regard to cardboard placed curbside starting September 1, the preference of the Coastal Resources facility is to receive the cardboard separately (loose) so it can move it right to baling for sale. However, we realize this is not always practical, especially if we want to prevent cardboard from blowing around. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Wedge flattened cardboard between two or more tagged bags.
  2. Break down cardboard and set it in a box that is not broken down or in a blue recycling bin.
  3. Broken down cardboard may be placed in a garbage can; however, it must be in there loosely such that it falls out when tipped upside down.  Many people tend to wedge cardboard in cans making it difficult for collection workers to remove, which is why we do not promote the use of trash cans for cardboard more heavily.  If done correctly, however, using a lidded trash can to hold loose broken down cardboard can be a great way to place it curbside.
  4. Cardboard may be tied with twine or string (no heavy rope, please), but just secure enough to keep it from blowing around.  The goal is to have the string/twine break as it compacts in the truck so it arrives separately at the plant to facilitate recycling of the cardboard.  For that reason, bundling it with packing tape, which has greater strength, is strongly discouraged.

What if my trash item does not fit into a bag?

The only item not required to be in a bag with a tag is cardboard, which should be flattened, neatly stacked, and placed alongside your tagged bag(s).  If you have other items that do not fit in a bag, you may be able to dispose of them at the Brewer Landfill. Click here for hours of operation and a list of items the landfill will accept.

What about Styrofoam?

Due to the bulky nature of Styrofoam, Brewer offers a limited amnesty during the first two weeks of January each year.  Residents shall be allowed to place Styrofoam curbside for municipal collection in clear plastic bags during the first two weeks on the month of January for free disposal.

Does everyone have to purchase tags?

Everyone who receives City-provided curbside pickup by Pine Tree (single family homes and multifamilies of 4 units or less) has to purchase tags.

Is there be a senior discount?

No. Everyone pays the same price per tag. However, those who produce less waste need fewer tags and have lower cost.

What if I don’t have the proper tag?

Pine Tree will only pick up bags with official orange Brewer tags and neatly stacked cardboard.  (They will also continue to collect official Brewer orange bags until residents use up their stock.)

How does the City deal with offenders?

The City regularly monitors collection issues. We take steps to identify offenders, and repeat offenders, if any, are cited in accordance with local and state law.

How many tagged bags can we dispose of each week?

There is no limit on how many bags with official orange tags you may place curbside each week for pickup. The PAYT program is designed to offset the cost of solid waste disposal. Each resident controls how much they spend for their own waste disposal.

Do I have to put a bag out each week?

No. Some households find they can go one, two, or even more weeks before filling a bag and placing it curbside.

Is trash still collected weekly?

Yes, trash and recycling is now collected together every week.

What is not accepted curbside?

As laid out in the City’s Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance, Chapter 22, Article 2, Section 2.4, the following rubbish, by way of example and not limitation, shall be considered unacceptable for curbside collection.

These materials will not be picked up curbside:

  1. Effective September 1, 2019, materials not in a bag affixed with an official City of Brewer tag (with the exception of neatly stacked cardboard) or not meeting the weight limitations.
  2. White goods such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and other large appliances,
  3. Material from the major repair of, excavation for, construction, or destruction of buildings or structures, such as piping, earth, plaster, mortar, bricks, building, blocks, septic tanks, trees or tree stumps over six inches in diameter, and any other similar materials, commonly called demolition debris,
  4. Grass clippings, weeds, plants, shrubs, leaves, brush or branches unless they are in a City-approved plastic bag prior to August 31, 2019 or, after September 1, 2019, in a bag affixed with an official City of Brewer tag,
  5. Bulky items such as mattresses and box springs, couches, chairs, and carpets
  6. Abandoned or junk vehicles and car parts
  7. Hazardous waste: All hazardous waste as defined by federal and state regulatory agencies,
  8. Hospital waste: All contaminated hospital waste as defined by federal and state laws, i.e., “red bag” pathological anatomical waste,
  9. Biological Waste, including dead animals or portions thereof or other pathological wastes
  10. Infectious waste: Wastes which are hazardous by reason of their contamination with infection materials i.e., “red bag” waste body parts, pathology lab waste, etc.,
  11. Human fecal waste;
  12. Animal fecal waste which is not contained in a plastic bag;
  13. Flammable waste; liquid waste; sludge;
  14. Waste oil, lubricants or fuels, including gasoline and propane;
  15. Powder and liquid pesticides, herbicides and fungicides;
  16. Paint waste and pigments;
  17. Construction and demolition debris;
  18. Electrical capacitors: Contain oils that may contain P.C.B.s;
  19. Special waste as defined by state law, including but not limited to, Asbestos,
  20. Laboratory chemicals;
  21. Biohazard materials;
  22. Plated metal parts;
  23. Electrical transformers or parts;
  24. Stove and fire ash;
  25. Tree stumps and logs;
  26. Tires.

How can I lower my waste disposal cost?

Reduce the amount you need to place curbside by donating usable items to a thrift store.  You can recycle grass, leaves and brush (as well as stove and fire ash) for free at the compost area of the Brewer Landfill.  Backyard composting of yard waste and kitchen scraps and buying items with less packaging are effective ways to lower your disposal costs even further. Since a tag can be placed on any size bag as long as it can be readily placed in the truck by the collection worker, you can use larger bags for lightweight but bulky items.     

Why should I pay for garbage pickup? Isn’t this what my taxes are supposed to cover?

Not all taxpayers receive garbage services. Businesses and commercial properties, including residences of over 4 units and trailer parks, pay substantial taxes yet must contract for waste collection.

With PAYT, it becomes more equitable for residents with smaller amounts of garbage to pay for what they use, and those who reduce the waste they produce are rewarded with a lower trash bill. Citizens who produce more waste will pay a higher cost of disposal.

The City is still providing curbside collection of waste. There are many PAYT communities, including Ellsworth, without curbside collection—residents must not only purchase PAYT bags or tags, but they also have to transport their garbage to a transfer station.

Doesn’t PAYT increase illegal dumping?

That has not been the case in Brewer. Nationwide studies have shown that most communities that start a PAYT system see little to no increase in roadside dumping. Illegal dumping exists in almost all communities, but the majority of dumped materials is not residential in origin—it is usually bulky items (e.g. furniture, construction debris, etc) that are not affected with a PAYT system. The Brewer Public Works Department works closely with the Code Enforcement Office and Police Department to identify and pursue any offenders.

How long has Brewer had a PAYT program?

PAYT began January 1, 2011.  On September, 1, 2019, Brewer’s PAYT program switched from being bag-based to being tag-based.

Why did Brewer implement PAYT?

The City implemented PAYT to offset the increasing costs of trash disposal. PAYT allows each household to control their volume of trash disposal and the costs associated with excess disposal. PAYT also creates a financial incentive that encourages residents to minimize their waste, which benefits everyone.

What are the goals of PAYT?

  1. Give residents a financial incentive to reduce the amount they throw away, thereby lowering the City’s collection and disposal costs.
  2. Generate revenue to help offset some of the cost of the City’s solid waste program.
  3. Promote equity in solid waste costs–residents pay for the waste they generate, not their neighbor’s.    

Is PAYT a new idea in Maine?

No. Over 140 communities in Maine currently utilize a PAYT program. This solid waste model is prevalent in southern Maine and across the country and is becoming more common in central and northern Maine. Holden and Ellsworth have had PAYT in place for many years.

Why did Brewer switch from PAYT bags to PAYT tags?

On September 1, 2019, the City of Brewer switched from a bag-based Pay As You Throw program to a tag-based system. The change had two goals: to address resident complaints about the quality of the orange PAYT bags and to reduce or eliminate negative cost impact on residents resulting from the increase in volume of waste requiring bagging in the “All In One” trash/recycling system effective September 1, 2019.

For the same $2.00 that got one a 33-gallon orange PAYT bag, a resident can obtain a Pay As You Throw sticker to affix to any size and quality bag they wish, such as a 60 gallon heavy duty contractor bag, as long as the contents weigh less than 40 pounds. In addition to providing residents significantly more volume for the same cost, this program change resolved the complaints many residents have about the inconsistent quality of the orange bags.  The bulk of recyclables collected curbside through August 2019 were quite light and would be suitable for very large bag sizes.

How much profit do the stores make off the tags?

The stores selling the Brewer PAYT tags are prohibited from marking up, or making a profit on, the tags. The tag price is set by the City Council and that is what the stores pay to acquire the bags for re-sale to the public.

How does PAYT affect Brewer’s tax rate?

The PAYT program provides about $200,000 in net benefit to the City’s budget each year. This is comprised of approximately $150,000 in bag revenue and a $50,000 reduction in disposal costs. Normally such a reduction in net costs would have translated into a tax rate decrease; however, in the year PAYT was implemented and in subsequent years, the City faced decreasing revenues from the state as well as a shrinking tax base. The PAYT program has been critical in minimizing the impact of these losses on the tax rate.

Who can I contact to get more information?

You can call the Public Works Department at 207.989.7800 or contact Ken Locke, Director of Environmental Services, at 207.989.5417 or, or Karen Fussell, Finance Director, at 207.989.8440 or