Wednesday, December 15, 2021

DEP To Outline Recommendations For Changing Act 101 And Electronics Waste Recycling Laws To Make Them More Effective At Dec. 16 Advisory Committee Meeting

On December 16, DEP’s
Solid Waste Advisory and Recycling Fund Advisory Committees are scheduled to meet and on the agenda are presentations by DEP on its recommendations for changing the law to make Act 101 Recycling Programs more effective and fixing the very broken Electronics Waste Recycling Program.

The advisory committees and DEP have been working for several years on how to amend the laws to make these programs more effective.

Act 101 Recycling Changes

The 54-page white paper written by DEP outlines the history of the Act 101 Recycling Programs, the status of waste generation, disposal and recycling in Pennsylvania and the fact that recycling contributes $22.6 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy and directly employes over 66,000 people.

“The environmental and economic benefits of Act 101 and recycling are real. There exists potential to make positive changes and realize even more benefits in the next few years. 

“However, the continued draining of the Recycling Fund for non-recycling purposes [Read more here.] limit DEP’s ability to maintain a functioning recycling program, much less implement meaningful and productive change.

“Without adequate resources, the Department cannot implement many of the proposed improvements highlighted in this report.”

The recommendations in the report to expand recycling and reduce waste, include--

-- General Program Changes

-- Diversion of organic waste from landfills by funding composting and anaerobic digestion projects.

-- Keep recycling funds in the Recycling Fund.  [Read more here.]

-- Support smaller, dual-stream and commingled waste recycling facilities.

-- Create Research and Development grants to invest in emerging technologies.

-- Fund regional public Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to create competition and increase stability in the cost of processing recyclables.

-- Reinstitute a Waste Planning Section to evaluate new technologies, product evaluations

and the consumption of recyclable materials in Pennsylvania.

-- Oversee the development of a comprehensive education program to improve the quality of materials collected.

-- Expand access to recycling through convenience centers. Ensure all Pennsylvanians have convenient access to all recycling options.

-- Statutory Changes

-- Prohibit certain materials from disposal.

-- Require communities to collect all eight mandated materials.

-- Require all businesses to implement recycling programs.

-- Require increased recycling and recovery at landfills, resources recovery facilities and transfer stations.

-- Increase the recycling fee to be consistent with current economics and provide real limitations on its use.

-- Increase frequency of education efforts required by local governments.

-- Implement phased-in organic collection requirements for certain municipalities.

-- Clearly delineate recycling from resource recovery to address the inconsistencies between Act 101 and recently passed House Bill 1808

-- Policy Changes

-- Set aside funding for public Material Recovery Facilities.

-- Provide enforcement/compliance assistance guidance for communities to gain compliance among commercial entities operating within their jurisdictions.

-- Create guidance on commercial and residential waste reduction strategies.

-- Increase focus on reuse through existing businesses and provide grants for their expansion.

-- Refocus on the hierarchy of Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.

-- Work with the Green Government Council to prioritize recycling among all state agencies. 

-- Regulatory Changes

-- Clarify County Coordinator requirements.

-- Eliminate the unnecessary air pollution and groundwater contamination associated with open burning waste.

-- Expand county planning requirements to encompass more coordination of their respective recycling programs.

-- Expand public participation in the county planning process.

-- Allow counties to plan for the management of items like waste tire, leaf waste, HHW etc.

-- Include specific reporting requirements for waste haulers to ensure recycling is properly reported.

-- Clarify certification and decertification requirements for Host Municipal inspectors.

-- Clarify general HHW requirements for ongoing programs.

-- Update county and municipal scope and authority to implement recycling programs.

Click Here for a copy of the Act 101 Recycling white paper.

Visit DEP’s Recycling In Pennsylvania webpage to learn more about the Act 101 Recycling program.

Electronics Waste Recycling Changes

DEP provided the Committees with a 10-page white paper on the E-Waste Recycling Program (a.k.a. “Covered Device Recycling Act”) which opens by saying the Act was passed in 2010 “that arranged for manufacturer-sponsored recycling, many Pennsylvanians are frustrated by their inability to conveniently and affordably recycle used electronic devices (covered devices).   [Read more here.]

“With insufficient recycling options available, the result is many covered devices, mostly televisions, are being illegally dumped and stockpiled across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They can be found at municipal buildings, along roadsides, and even on river banks. 

“The current statutory scheme for covered devices does not provide all residents with proper disposal options as electronic waste collectors are not required to be available for the entire year and do not find it profitable to operate in many parts of the state. 

“At the same time, it is illegal to dispose of electronics in landfills. This combination has exacerbated the unintended consequence of illegal dumping, which contributes to neighborhood blight, pollutes soil and groundwater, and can pose health risks to residents.”

DEP recommends the following changes be made in the Covered Device Recycling Act--

-- Metrics should shift from weight-based goals to a convenience system that uses a return or convenience share. This will ensure that residents have access to free recycling and that all materials can be collected and recycled.

-- Permanent collection sites should be established in every county with a minimum operating schedule. This will ensure availability for drop-offs is consistent and convenient to the public. Permanent, on-going collection sites should reduce costs in the long term as compared to special one-day events. The entire commonwealth should be covered, not just the 85% currently covered by CDRA recycling programs.

-- Collection sites should be required to take every type of electronic device covered by the statute. The statutes should also clarify that no charge for collection, transportation or recycling can be assessed or passed on to local governments or residents by recyclers, manufacturers and retailers.

-- The ban on landfill disposal of electronics should continue.

-- The concept of “retrievable cells” should not be allowed because of the potential for negative environmental impacts and the conflict with the definition of “recycling” in Act 101.

-- Recycling collection, transportation and processing should be managed by manufacturers or

by local governments, not by DEP.

     -- If recycling is managed by manufacturers, the obligation to collect should not be a hard target based on weight, because changes in technology have made new products lighter than the old products that remain uncollected. A “return share” system as described above or a market share system that does not include a hard target should be added to any manufacturer program. A manufacturer must be responsible for the recycling of every type of covered device collected, regardless of whether it manufactured the device.

     -- If collection is performed by local governments, then manufacturers should be required to contribute funding for collection, transportation, and recycling. This could be determined by “return share” or market share as described above.

     -- DEP should not be required to engage in statewide contracting, which would require a significant increase in staff and a transformation of its current role.

-- Funding for collection, transportation and recycling should not come from a tax or fee on consumers or local governments.

-- Enforcement authority could be improved by creating more explicit standards for compliance and implementing penalties for non-compliant actors. The option to implement a sales ban on non-compliant manufacturers should also be considered as an avenue to increase program compliance. 

Click Here for a copy of the E-Waste Recycling white paper.

Visit DEP’s Electronics Recycling webpage to learn more about the program.

The meeting will be held in-person in Room 105 Rachel Carson Building starting at 10:00 a.m.  It will also be available virtually via WebEx and by conference call.

Visit DEP’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee webpage for available handouts. Questions should be directed to Laura Henry or 717-772-5713. 

Related Articles:

-- DEP Cancels 2021 Recycling Implementation Grant Round Because General Assembly Took $50 Million From Recycling Fund To Balance State Budget

-- Senate Hearing: E-Waste Recycling Law Broken, 5.1 Million CRTs, TVs Waiting To Be Recycled In PA

-- House Committee Finds Curbside, Electronics Waste Recycling Continues To Struggle; Taking $10 Million From Recycling Fund Won’t Help

-- Renewing Recycling Fee, Illegal Dumping, Fixing E-Waste Recycling Law Key Issues At Hearing On Act 101

[Posted: December 15, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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