Municipal recycling in Pennsylvania is governed by Act 101 of 1988, the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act. Act 101 spells out which municipalities must establish a recycling program, what items must be recycled, frequency of collections, educational requirements, and other components necessary for a comprehensive municipal recycling program.
Municipalities with 5,000 or more residents, and a population density of more than 300 persons per square mile, must have established a residential curbside recycling program, a commercial recycling program, a leaf waste collection program, and ordinances in place to enforce compliance with the municipality's recycling program. Such municipalities are referred to as "mandated municipalities." Municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents may choose to establish voluntary recycling programs through action of the governing body of the municipality. Once a municipality is mandated, it remains mandated even if population drops below 5,000 in subsequent decennial censuses.
Mandated municipalities that are deemed in compliance with provisions of Act 101 and Act 140 of 2006 (refer to requirements listed below) are eligible to receive grant funds (referred to as 904 performance grants) based on the volume of recyclable material collected. Non-mandated municipalities are also eligible to receive 904 performance grant funds based on the volume of material collected.
Additionally, Act 101 requires residents, commercial and institutional establishments located in mandated municipalities to recycle those items specified in the municipal recycling ordinance.
Recycling in Pennsylvania is overseen by the Department of Environmental Protection. Counties may impose stricter regulations than those required by Act 101, but none may be lesser. Each county designates a County Recycling Coordinator to oversee recycling activities, although enforcement falls to the regional DEP recycling coordinator.
All mandated municipalities must to report to the County in which it is located all recycling activities within its municipal borders during the prior calendar year. This report must include: residential recycling tonnage, commercial recycling tonnage, and leaf waste collected. All material collected for recycling should be reported; however, not all materials collected count toward 904 performance grant funds.
Recycling data can be obtained from a number of sources: recycling haulers, from commercial businesses who contract for recycling services, or other entities that track recycling tonnage.