- Pennsylvania has seen a 22% increase in collection of recyclables in five years — from 4.8 million tons to 5.85 million tons — according to a study by Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association (PWIA). Single-stream recycling now accounts for 43% of all recovered materials.
- The PWIA study, summarized at the 2015 Pennsylvania Recycling Industries Congress in mid-November, found that the per person volume of recyclables in the state is three-and-a-half times higher than the national average.
- Pennsylvania’s combined collection, disposal, and recycling activities contribute $4.2 billion annually to the state's economy, the study found.
The recycling industry has its challenges, especially tied to the single-stream system that provides convenience but presents costly obstacles to the industry.
Some MRFs are overcoming these hurdles, often by investing in high-dollar screening and sorting technology, turning a complex business endeavor into a revenue generator while benefiting the environment and helping municipalities reach zero waste goals.
"Our industry has invested $400 million in capital improvements. That, in turn, has created an economic ripple impact of about $800 million and the support of about 6,000 jobs," said Robert Bylone, president of Recycling Markets Center who, along with PWIA, sponsored the 2015 Congress where the Pennsylvania study's findings were reported.
"More than 2,200 operations are involved in the collection and processing of recyclables, about 500 manufacturers are using recycled materials, and another 1,000 enterprises are involved in reuse and remanufacturing," said Bylone.