Municipal Recycling

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County and Municipal Programs Act 101 Reporting

Act 101 of 1988, “The Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act,” mandates recycling in municipalities with populations over 10,000 and those with populations between 5,000 and 10,000 that have population densities greater than 300 persons per square mile. At present, 440 of Pennsylvania’s 2,700 municipalities are mandated to recycle and provide curbside collection programs. These municipalities collect leaf waste and at least three materials from a menu of eight materials – steel/tin and aluminum cans, plastics, clear and colored glass, office paper, newspaper and corrugated cardboard from residents. They also provide recycling education and enforce their recycling ordinances.

Pennsylvania has over 1,900 municipalities with access to recycling programs. These programs serve an estimated 94 percent of the state’s population. Of the communities not required to recycle, 617 have curbside programs and 873 have access to drop-off programs.

Summary of Municipalities by Recycling Program Type

Type of Recycling Program

# of Municipalities

Mandated Curbside Collection

440 

Voluntary Curbside Collection

617 

Access to Drop-off Collection Only

873 

Total Number of Municipalities in Programs

1,930 

* 424 municipaliities have both curbside and drop-off collection

Approximately 70 percent of the municipalities use private haulers for residential recycling collection; the rest collect their own. The private sector operates 56 of Pennsylvania’s 84 materials recycling facilities (MRFs). Most leaf and yard waste composting is handled by municipal, county and authority-owned composting facilities.

Nineteen of the 67 counties had met or exceeded the 35 percent recycling goal by 2001.

By weight, more paper is recycled than any other material, followed by construction/demolition waste from residential do-it-yourself building projects.

Pennsylvania distinguishes between “standard” and “nonstandard” recyclable materials. “Standard” materials refer to those covered by the U.S. standard recycling calculation, which was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Council of State Governments to enable comparisons of recycling results between states. These include all the materials specified in Act 101 plus food wastes, textiles, tires and white goods. Pennsylvania’s recycling programs collect “nonstandard” materials, as well – notably construction and demolition wastes, used oil and aluminum scrap.

 Commercial Recycling Programs

Mandated communities are responsible for ensuring that commercial, institutional and municipal establishments recycle aluminum cans, corrugated cardboard, office paper and leaf waste, at minimum. Many businesses in nonmandated communities also recycle, but do not always report their efforts for inclusion in the statewide recycling rate. Private haulers account for nearly 100 percent of collection from commercial, institutional and municipal establishments.

 

Pennsylvania Recycling Statutes & Regulations
PA Recycling Statutes & Regulations

Act 101 Section 902 Recycling Grant Application Guidelines Regarding Proper Management of Recyclables, Including Leaf Waste

Assuring compliance with the terms and conditions of Act 101, the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, other pertinent statutes and the Department’s policies and grant guidance are key components of the Department’s grant review process. The Act requires certain municipalities (“mandated municipalities”) to recycle certain items and provide for the collection and composting of leaf waste. As such, any mandated municipality that allows the materials that are part of its municipal recycling program, including leaf waste, to be managed in a manner other than recycling or composting is in violation of Act 101. The Act also establishes the grant requirements for those communities not mandated to recycle. However, Act 175 states that the Department “shall not prohibit the award of any grant to a county or municipality that has adopted an ordinance allowing the limited burning of yard waste.” Since grant funding is awarded on a competitive basis, the following guidelines have been developed to assure that a common understanding exists between the Department and municipalities regarding section 902 grant program requirements.

Mandated municipality requesting a section 902 grant:

1. DEP Regional Planning and Recycling Coordinators will review recycling ordinances and regulations submitted with the grant application to ensure compliance with Act 101, especially section 1501© (1)-(5), including commercial, municipal and institutional facilities and community events.

2. It will be assumed that a municipality that does not have an ordinance or regulation that addresses burning is not authorizing the burning of the materials that are part of its recycling program – unless the Department has evidence to the contrary. This evidence could include complaints or other information gathered by the Department.

3. The grant application should confirm that the municipality does not have an ordinance, regulation or other mechanism authorizing the burning of the materials listed in section 1501©(1)(i) and (iii) (except for leaf waste) that are part of its recycling program and that the municipality will enforce its recycling ordinances and regulations. Applications from municipalities that have adopted an ordinance allowing for the limited burning of yard waste will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure that, to the greatest extent practicable, sufficient effort has been made to comply with sections 1501©(1)(ii) and (iii) regarding the separation and composting of leaf waste.

4. The regional office should not recommend a grant until the municipality has adopted any necessary modifications to its ordinances or regulations in relation to these guidelines.

Non-mandated municipality requesting a section 902 grant:

Programs required by the municipality:

1. DEP Regional Planning and Recycling Coordinators will review recycling ordinances and other mechanisms submitted with the grant application to ensure compliance with Act 101, especially section 902(b)(3).

2. The recycling ordinance or other mechanism need only be applicable to that part(s) of the municipality that is being served by the recycling program.

3. It will be assumed that a municipality that does not have an ordinance or other mechanism that addresses burning is not authorizing the burning of the materials that are part of its recycling program – unless the Department has evidence to the contrary. This evidence could include complaints or other information gathered by the Department.

4. The grant application should confirm that the municipality does not have an ordinance, regulation or other mechanism authorizing the burning of the materials listed in section 1501©(1)(i) and (iii) (except for leaf waste) that are part of its recycling program and that the municipality will enforce its recycling ordinances and regulations. Applications from municipalities that have adopted an ordinance allowing for the limited burning of yard waste will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure that, to the greatest extent practicable, sufficient effort has been made to operate the program according to the intent of sections 1501©(1)(ii) and (iii) regarding the separation and composting of leaf waste.

5. The regional office should not recommend a grant until the municipality has adopted any necessary modifications to its ordinances or regulations in relation to these guidelines.

Voluntary Participation Programs:

1. DEP will accept applications from municipalities that have voluntary programs, but funding for a program that allows any material that is part of its recycling program to be burned is unlikely except where the limited burning of yard waste is authorized by an ordinance. Applications from municipalities that have adopted an ordinance allowing for the limited burning of yard waste will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure that, to the greatest extent practicable, sufficient effort has been made to operate the program according to the intent of sections 1501©(1)(ii) and (iii) regarding the separation and composting of leaf waste.

2. It will be assumed that a municipality that does not have an ordinance or other mechanism that addresses burning is not authorizing the burning of the materials that are part of its recycling program – unless the Department has evidence to the contrary. This evidence could include complaints or other information gathered by the Department.

3. The regional office should not recommend a grant until the municipality has adopted any necessary modifications to its ordinances or regulations in relation to these guidelines.

County requesting a section 902 grant:

1. The above guidelines apply if a county requests a section 902 grant on behalf of one or more municipalities within its jurisdiction. The county must include appropriate documentation from each municipality to satisfy the above provisions as they relate to mandated and non-mandated municipalities. It is not necessary that the county adopt its own ordinance to enforce any program for which the municipalities are seeking funding assistance.

2. Counties requesting funds for recycling education only do not need to comply with the requirements of section 1501©.

3. The Department does not consider counties to be responsible for enforcing municipal recycling ordinances.

4. A county that requests section 902 funding for a material recovery facility (MRF) should ensure that the host municipality does not allow the burning of the materials that are part of the county’s recycling program.

5. The regional office should not recommend a grant until the relevant municipalities have adopted any necessary modifications to their ordinances or regulations in relation to these guidelines.

MUNICIPAL RECYCLING UPDATE

Close the Recycling Loop — Buy Recycled

IF YOU’RE NOT BUYING RECYCLED, YOU’RE NOT RECYCLING

What does this mean?

Recycling does not stop when you place your recyclables at the curb or in your desk side container. It only begins there. It is only when you purchase products made with post consumer recycled materials that you complete the recycling loop. The long-term success of recycling in Pennsylvania depends on the demand for recycled products. When you Buy Recycled you help maintain existing material and promote new material for the materials you separate for recycling.

Buying Recycled (Closing the Loop) has other benefits as well. When we enhance recycling by Buying Recycled, we reduce the amount of waste destined for disposal, thus reducing the need for expansion of additional landfills, incinerators, or other facilities to handle waste. Taking advantage of additional opportunities for recycling that are created by Buying Recycled, such as demand for a wider range of materials at greater market value, can help to limit or reduce your disposal costs because there will be less to throw away.

Finally, use of recycled materials, can help to conserve valuable natural resources because:
(1) there will be less need for virgin materials that may be expensive, scarce, difficult to extract
(2) many processes that use recycled materials are less energy intensive, so the need for fossil fuel is decreased

What is a “Recycled” Product?

The term recycle, when used to describe products, can be quite confusing, and in some cases, even misleading. For example recycled does not mean that a product contains 100% recovered materials. Nor does it always mean that a product contains post consumer materials.

When buying recycled, it is important to understand what you are buying and what you should be looking for in a product. Unfortunately, there is not consensus on how to define a “recycled” product. Key words to become familiar with are recycled, recyclable, recovered materials, virgin materials, post-consumer, and pre-consumer. By understanding the differences as well as the potential for misuse of these terms, you will be able to specify the kinds of recycled products that you want.

Recycled simply means that a product contains some recovered materials that might otherwise be disposed of through the waste management infrastructure.

Recovered materials is a broad term, covering both “pre-consumer” and “post-consumer” materials.

Post-consumer materials are generated by a business or consumer that have served their intended end uses and have been diverted from the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream for the purpose of recycling.

Pre-consumer materials are generated during any step in the production of a product and that have been recovered for or otherwise diverted from the waste stream for reuse in that same industrial process. Examples include trimmings, damaged or obsolete products, and production overruns. This type of material is also known as “post-industrial”.

Recyclable is a somewhat misused and misleading term. Many materials are recyclable but are not always possible to recycle a given material in a given area because low volumes of generation or low demand make the cost to process and transport the material to an end user prohibitive.

It should be noted that manufacturers often use the recycling symbol – the “chasing arrows” – indiscriminately. Sometimes the symbol means that product contains recycled material, and other times it means the product is recyclable. As noted above, recyclable can be a misleading term if the material cannot be recycled locally.

Virgin materials are natural resources and raw material traditionally used in industrial and manufacturing processes. Examples of virgin material include wood pulp, plastic resins derived from the petroleum refining process, mined/processed metals, and glass cullet produced utilizing a silica base.

Last Updated: 07/11/14 13:55:33
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