This paper investigates the introduction of unit-pricing (UP) schemes in waste management with regard to grassroots initiatives promoting bottom-up participatory processes in local communities, addressing several issues concerning environmental justice and degrowth. As waste service charges and fees increase in proportion of waste generated in presence of UP schemes, the paper explores and evaluates the socio-economic impact of these schemes at a local level, analysing data and information gathered from four municipalities in Spain. Findings indicate that UP schemes can provide a more balanced payment system for local residents, and help reducing free-rider behaviours associated with illegal and improper disposal practices. In addition, findings provide empirical evidence of the importance of grassroots initiatives in relation to increasing awareness regarding environmental issues among the public, and in view of facilitating change towards more sustainable practices within local communities. Conclusions gathered from this study offer valuable insights to local and national policymakers with regard to the design and delivery of UP schemes in waste management services.