Pennsylvania’s 30-year recycling policy needs updating, experts say


Some environmentalists say it’s time for Pennsylvania to update its approach to waste reduction.

It’s been more than 30 years, they say, since the Commonwealth updated its recycling targets, which were created at a time when recyclable items were mainly paper and glass.

In 1988, Pennsylvania broke new ground by passing Act 101, the recycling policy aimed to reduce waste. More than 1,000 curbside programs have sprung up as a result.

But in a recent study, the Pennsylvania Resource Council found that government waste increased by 45% per capita.

Darren Spielman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Resources Council, said Pennsylvanians probably couldn’t imagine all the plastic and electronic waste today.

“They did not anticipate the acceleration of our disposable culture. We have to get to a point where the choices in front of people are sustainable,” Spielman said.

Faran Savitz, zero waste advocate with PennEnvironmentan environmental advocacy group that co-sponsored the study, said the study found that Pennsylvania should make recycling funds available to all municipalities.

“Communities that are smaller don’t have the same resources as, say, Philadelphia, or even Allentown and Bethlehem,” Savitz said. “It will help them implement these programs effectively, ensure their citizens are recycling, and really help out.”

The study also concluded that Pennsylvanians need more recycling education. He found that many people throw things that cannot be recycled into recycling bins.

Savitz calls it “wish-cycling”.

“Recycling can be expensive, especially when people put non-recyclable things in their recycling. The term is wish-cycling. If people want to ride a bike, it makes the process complicated and expensive,” Savitz said.

To learn more about recycling in Pennsylvania, visit the state recycling website.