Local authorities are key players in the management of municipal waste. The regulatory framework and the prevailing economic incentives – in particular, landfill and waste incineration taxes – have proved critical in guiding their actions. These taxes (especially landfill taxes) are levied in most European countries. Spain is one of the few countries that has opted not to levy a state-wide tax, although these taxes are becoming increasingly more common among its regions or Autonomous Communities.
Among local authorities, waste charges are the instrument used primarily to support the provision of waste collection and treatment services. An opportunity for local authorities to adopt the “polluter pays” principle is to apply the concept of pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) to waste charges. In PAYT schemes, the amount paid by each household and each economic activity is linked to their actual generation of waste and to the specific management practices that they employ.