Affordability is defined as the ability of households to pay for a certain level of waste management services. The threshold payment for waste collection, separation/recycling, and final disposal services is internationally accepted as 1.5% of average household spendable income. Social measures, such as reductions or exemptions of payment, can be instituted for low-income households.

Polluter pays principle is the commonly accepted practice that those who generate pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment. Thereto the costs have to be defined, as well as the elements to be included in the costs. Polluter payments could be established on the basis of waste delivery by weight, ‘pay as you throw’ such as the bag purchase system in Japan, by proxy based on the number of generators, and based on other considerations. In most OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, fixed monthly or quarterly charges, sometimes depending on the number of people in the household, are the most common payment method.

Sustainability in service rendering means full cost recovery, i.e., user charges should cover the direct financial costs and any associated negative environmental effects. Failures may result when the price of goods and services does not reflect the full cost or when government interventions could distort the market mechanism by grants, taxation policies, price control, etc.

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