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 History of Act 101

Act 101 is a Pennsylvania law which 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.  

Municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more, or with a population of more than 5,000 but less than 10,000 and 300 people or more per square mile, are mandated "to separate high grade office paper, aluminum, corrugated paper and leaf waste and other materials deemed appropriate by the municipality generated at commercial, municipal or institutional establishments and from community activities and to store the material until collection."  Mandated municipalities are directed to adopt recycling ordinances that incorporate Act 101 requirements. 

Act 101 was designed to ensure proper management of wastes generated within the Commonwealth, including recycling and waste reduction and assurance of sufficient disposal capacity.  
Businesses,  schools, government buildings, and other establishments within mandated municipalities were required to recycle aluminum, high grade office paper, and corrugated paper in addition to materials chosen by the municipality.

Act 101 is financed by the creation of the Recycling Fund, fed by authorization of the Recycling Fee, a $2-per-ton fee on all waste entering landfills and resource recovery facilities.  The initial fee was to be in effect until October of 1998.

Distribution of the fund was in the form of grants:
   901 Planning Grants: to fund 80% of approved cost for counties to prepare municipal waste management plans and related studies.
   902 Recycling Grants: to fund 90% of approved cost for counties and municipalities to establish municipal recycling programs.
   903 Recycling Coordinator Grants: to fund up to 50%of salary and approved expenses for a county recycling coordinator.
   904 Performance Grants: awarded to municipalities based on type and weight of material recycled and population.

Up to 70% of the Recycling Fund provides:
Development and implementation of county and municipal recycling programs;
Municipal recycling program performance grants;
Studies to aid in the development of markets for recyclable materials, and studies to encourage and implement waste reduction strategies
Research and demonstration grants for the beneficial use of solid waste; and more.

Other Grants were made available to assist recycling efforts:

  • Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection and Disposal Grants: awarded to municipalities and counties that establish HHW collection programs (based on an appropriation from the PA General Assembly and EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
  • Host Municipality Inspector Grants: provides training and funds 50% of approved cost for a certified host municipal inspector for landfills and resource recovery facilities.
  • Independent Permit Application Review Grants: reimburse municipalities up to $10,000 for review of disposal facility permits by a licensed engineer.

 Act 101 - Now

​The basic provisions of Act 101 are still in place and are the law of the land for mandated municipalities and commercial/municipal/institutional establishments. The act was revised twice to strengthen and/or clarify some of the provision and to extend the funding provisions from its initial sunset date of 1998.

The most recent major change became Act 140, which went into effect in November of 2006. Two important effects of that act were to:

  • Extend the sunset date for collection of the recycling fee to December 31, 2011.*
  • Establish requirements for the spending of performance grants (904) by all Act 101 mandated communities and non-mandated communities that receive over $10,000 in performance grant funds.

Requirements for municipalities covered under Act 140 include:
   ● All residents must be required by ordinance to have waste and recycling services.
   ● Must have an implemented residential curbside recycling program.
   ● Must facilitate a commercial recycling program.
   ● Must provide semi-annual residential and commercial recycling education.
   ● Enforcement Program (includes designated enforcement person or entity).
   ● Special Materials Program – for the collection of special waste such as tires, white goods, HHW, etc. Must have provision for or participate in 
      county, multi-municipal, or 
private sector collection effort.
   ● Anti-Littering Program – through practice and/or education; sponsor, facilitate, or support programs that address anti-littering and illegal dumping.
   ● Recycling Coordinator – must have a designated person or entity responsible for recycling data collection and reporting.

*Legislation was passed in May of 2010 reauthorizing the $2.00 per ton recycling fund fee and extending the sunset date of Act 101 to 2020.

 Update: Language in PA House Bill 118 effectively removed the sunset date from the $2 recycling fee and maintains the Recycling Fund established in Act 101.  The bill (now Act 40 of 2017) was signed into law by Governor Wolf on October 30, 2017.

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