Fulfilling the Promise of Recycling

The role of recycling and waste companies is evolving – they’re not just about landfills anymore. While Pennsylvania has a history of subsidizing local government-run recycling programs with tax dollars, private waste companies now collect and process the majority of residential and commercial recyclables.

Two things are clear. First, recycling is not free. Like any other service, there are costs involved. To promote the public’s interest in recycling, those costs have historically been managed by resale of select materials, reliance on a mostly volunteer workforce, special grants and a variety of governmental subsidies. However, fluctuating markets, limited volunteer-based capacity and competing demands for government dollars no longer support recycling services.

Second, recycling has become ingrained within most Pennsylvania households, with residents demonstrating a desire to absorb the incremental cost of a curbside recycling service. The industry has answered that call through the development of improved methods for collection of recyclable materials, and through large capital investments in state-of-the-art processing facilities to efficiently handle increasing volumes of recyclable materials.

Streamlining How We Recycle

With “single-stream” recycling, all recyclable materials are placed into one bin (co-mingled) and sorted at a recycling center. When consumers are not faced with the task of separating and sorting, significantly more material gets recycled.

Video courtesy of Waste Management.