Do Not Let Pennsylvania's Recycling Efforts Come to an End

The Pennsylvania budget revenue debate continues and the Legislature could still adopt a plan that raids certain special funds. In fact, it sounds like they are close to voting on a new proposal that would still include some special fund transfers. 

Please keep contacting your Representatives and Senators as they get close to voting on a final revenue package. We need to let them know that the Recycling Fund cannot be an option for "revenue." 

PROP sent the following letter to all Senators and Representatives. Many of you have already reached out. If you have not, please do. Your personal outreach is the only way they gain an understanding of local operations and services. 

This link will take you to a draft letter, which you can personalize or send as is. 

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On behalf of the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania and the communities which they serve, I am writing to express concern over the proposed plan to balance the Commonwealth’s FY 2017-18 budget using “pots of money” sitting in “idle accounts.” I would urge members of the House to consider the following points before choosing to pursue what - perhaps on the surface - appears to be an easy solution.

The Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act (1988) mandates recycling in municipalities with populations over 5,000 and 300 people / square mile. The Act authorizes a $2-per-ton fee on all waste disposed at municipal waste landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. The fund generated by the recycling fee in turn provides grants for local collection programs, materials processing, composting facilities, public education, equipment, technical training, provides partial funding for County Solid Waste plans, along with performance grants.

Consider the negative, downward-spiral effects of eliminating monies from the Recycling Fund and thus crippling these operations. Diverting monies from the Recycling Fund means a direct, negative and highly visible impact on the management, reduction and reuse of recyclable materials in the Commonwealth. According to DEP figures from 2014, Pennsylvania recycled more than 16.8 million tons of material, which, according to DEP, is equivalent to removing 15.9 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the air. Successful recycling operations are made possible by the grants provided in the Recycling Fund.

The business of recycling in Pennsylvania is a considerable economic generator. According to figures published in the June 4, 2016 Pennsylvania Bulletin, “Over $16.7 million in grant funding was awarded to 120 municipalities...” under section 902 of the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. The economic contribution to the employment sector – and the downstream benefits of workers earning a family sustaining wage - from disbursement of this award alone cannot be dismissed.

In addition, we take issue that these funds are sitting idle or are lapsed as claimed in some budget plans. Indeed, the Recycling Funds are already allocated for current programs across the state and if eliminated will mean not paying communities for all or part of at least 900 grants for local projects already underway. There are also another 438 applications pending for new grants. By our estimation this will lead to disruption of recycling services in every legislative district.

Considering both the environmental and economic impacts to our townships, municipalities and citizens, I strongly encourage you to vote against any proposal that would strip monies from the Recycling Fund. Please contact me at info below or Alex Rahn, PROP's Government Affairs Consultant at 717-378-3388 or arahn@wannerassoc.com, if you need further details.

Jennifer Summers, Executive Director
Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania