Plastic, Paper, Metal & Glass

All recycling is based on simple market economic principles. As commodities, things like aluminum cans are recyclable because industry recognizes their inherent value. In other words, an item is only recyclable if someone finds a use for the material. These markets exist for many of our household waste materials. Recycling works when the value of the particular material supports the collection, processing and remanufacture of a product into a new one.

Pennsylvania’s recycling law, Act 101, established a variety of rules ensuring Pennsylvanians have free and convenient access to recycling services for commonly recycled materials from their homes and at their places of business. While Act 101 does not guarantee residents access to recycling for all common materials, market conditions have supported the collection for most.

Summary of Act 101

Municipalities with populations of at least 10,000 had to implement curbside recycling programs by September 26, 1990. Municipalities with populations between 5,000 and 10,000 and more than 300 persons per square mile had to implement curbside programs by September 26, 1991. Grants are available to all municipalities to establish recycling programs. All disposal facilities provide recycling drop-off centers.

Mandated municipalities collect at last 3 of the following materials: clear glass; colored glass; plastics; aluminum; steel and bimetallic cans; high grade office paper; corrugated paper and newsprint.

Commercial, municipal and institutional establishments within a mandated municipality are required to recycle aluminum, high-grade office paper and corrugated paper in addition to other materials chosen by the municipality.