Act 101 of 1988 – The Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act
What Inspired Act 101
Act 101 was created to meet several parallel challenges facing Pennsylvania’s waste management system in the mid 1980’s. In 1984 the United States Congress enacted amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. These amendments set a new standard for the management of solid waste including new design and operating criteria for landfills. These new standards altered the solid waste system across the country by effectively forcing the closure of thousands of landfills which could not meet the new environmental protection goals. New rules included liner systems, set back from water ways and long term care requirements. As hundreds of landfills in PA were set to close, concern that there was a rapidly impending Landfill Capacity Crisis took hold. Fears of insufficient landfill capacity are at the very heart of Act 101…Pennsylvania needed to protect a scarce resource, the landfill.
Act 101 established several complimentary programs to avoid the looming crisis including a highly progressive strategy to build a robust recycling infrastructure across PA. The law requires; county level planning for solid waste, mandatory recycling service for the most populous towns and cities and alternatives to landfill disposal of leaf waste. The Act also provided a funding stream to support compliance from the counties, townships, boroughs and cities it targets.
The following sections look at several of the key features of Act 101 and how they influence recycling today. Please note that the Act omits even numbered chapters!
The complete text of Act 101 can be found here.