DEP Looking To Change State Recycling Program To Ban More Materials From Landfills
The Department of Environmental Protection has started the process of developing the next generation of the state's recycling program by proposing a ban on 18 different categories of waste from landfills over a four year period. These materials would be left to municipalities and private industry to recycle.
These proposed changes are being discussed against a backdrop of a $15 million cut in the recycling program in the current fiscal year with more cuts likely in 2009-10 to help balance the state's budget.
Also of concern is a projected drop-off in income from the $2/ton Recycling Fee which has declined from $47 million in 2004 to an estimated $37.5 million in 2010-11.
The state's recycling law currently mandates the collection of certain items through municipal recycling programs in communities of 5,000 or more. There is a difference of opinion on whether the law must be amended to change the recycling program as DEP has proposed, but the most straight-forward option would be to amend the law.
The DEP proposal wouldphase in the changes in three steps--
--Phase 1- 60 Days After Final Regulations Enacted:scrap metal and white goods (washers, dryers, etc.),cathode ray tubes (TVs and computer monitors),waste oil and used filters,aluminum, steel and bimetal cans,shredded tires;
--Phase 2- Effective 2 Years After Regulations Enacted:land clearing and grubbing waste,wood pallets and unpainted wood,high-grade office paper, newsprint, corrugated paper, magazines, catalogs and telephone books,PETE #1 and HDPE #2 plastic bottles,glass bottles and jars,yard waste; and
--Phase 3- Effective 4 Years After Regulations Enacted:mercury-containing devices and bulbs,oil-based paint,food waste,mattresses and box springs,rigid plastics,electronics,carpeting.
In an extensive article on the proposed changes in the September issue of PA Township News, DEP Deputy Secretary Thomas Fidler said the burden of providing a recycling program for the items banned would fall on municipal recycling programs, whether they are implemented by municipalities themselves or through private waste haulers.
Fidler was quoted in the article as saying, "We recognize that banning certain commodities from disposal is going to be much easier in municipalities that have well-established (recycling) programs and where there's been good education among the population, versus more rural municipalities that are either new to recycling or haven't become involved with structured recycling programs up to this point."
The concept behind the proposed changes, he said, was to encourage more of a private-public recycling market by banning the materials from landfills making them available to recyclers who would use the materials.
For more information, visit the DEP Solid Waste Advisory Committee webpage.
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