Act 101 Turns 29!

Posted by: Mary Kate Ranii on July 27, 2017

Today marks the 29th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s recycling law, Act 101!

On July 28, 1988 Governor Bob Casey signed into law the most innovative recycling legislation in the nation, setting the standard for state recycling laws across the country. As a national leader in waste diversion and recycling in the 1970s and 1980s, PRC was instrumental in the development and crafting Act 101 as a way to fight litter and to protect the environment and Pennsylvania’s scenic beauty.

Act 101 is a Pennsylvania law that requiring free and convenient access to recycling for the majority of Pennsylvanians, establishing a $2-per-ton fee on all waste disposed at landfills and waste-to-energy facilities (incinerators) which pays for grant opportunities for local recycling collections, public education, recycling and composting facilities, equipment and training.

To fulfill this requirements, the legislation mandated the majority of municipalities implement curbside recycling programs and provide recycling drop-off centers at all disposal facilities. These curbside and drop-off recycling centers had to collect at least 3 of the following materials: glass (clear or colored), plastics, aluminum, steel & bimetallic cans, high grade office paper, corrugated paper, and newspaper. Businesses, schools, government buildings, and other establishments within mandated municipalities were required to recycle aluminum, high grade office paper, and corrugated paper in addition to materials chosen by the municipality.

Thanks to Act 101, approximately 1,600 municipalities offer recycling programs to over 11 million Pennsylvanians. Since 1988, the state’s recycling rate has grown from 2% to 36%! Recycling now directly employs 66,000 Pennsylvanians and stimulates as many as 110,000 additional jobs in the Commonwealth! Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption as well as fights deforestation and land degradation through mining!

Act 101 has done so much for the environment and economy here in Pennsylvania, however there is still much room for improvement and growth. As markets develop and materials that individuals place in recycling bins change, PRC is taking steps to update and modernize this current piece of legislation to make it ready for life in 2017 and beyond.

PRC held it’s first Environmental Roundtable regarding the future of Act 101 in June 2017, inviting Pennsylvania’s top recycling experts and members of the local community to come together to discuss the future of recycling and Act 101. PRC is excited to continue this conversation in Pittsburgh at the end of September at Construction Junction! Stay tuned for more details!

Help PRC develop a better future for recycling in Pennsylvania! Become a member or make a donation today!