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13 “Zero Waste PA” bills introduced in Harrisburg
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13 “Zero Waste PA” bills introduced in Harrisburg

What’s one way to respond to our current recycling crisis to curb our consumption rates?

Legislation.

PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur and (mostly southeast PA Democratic) state legislators announced a “Zero Waste PA” package of bills with goals to reduce waste, litter and encourage recycling/reuse last Wednesday.

13 “Zero Waste PA” bills include:

  1. Prohibit polystyrene to-go containers from food establishments (Rep. Tim Briggs)
  2. Limit straws: Prohibit establishments from offering plastic straws, unless a customer asks for one. (Rep. Mary Jo Daley)
  3. Increase littering fines and penalties for those caught illegally throwing away their garbage. (Rep. Donna Bullock)
  4. Increase the disposal fee for municipal waste landfills from $4 per ton to $8 per ton to help support important conservation and environmental protection programs. (Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler)
  5. Increasing the recycling fee that landfill operators pay from $2 per ton to $5 per ton on waste received at their landfills, the first increase in 30 years. (Rep. Mary Isaacson)
  6. Authorizing counties that have recycling programs to collect a recycling and waste management fee of up to $4 per ton, to be used to create and maintain new or existing recycling programs, programs to clean up illegal dumping sites or litter, and/or programs for alternative energy. (Rep. Patty Kim)
  7. Compost FTW: Significantly diverting organic waste from our landfills and incinerators and spurring a market for organic waste composting (Rep. Danielle Friel Otten)
  8. Establishing a statewide cigarette filter upcycling initiative, where a 20-cent, partially reimbursed deposit on each pack of cigarettes sold in Pennsylvania would be used for collection centers and safe reuse. (Rep. Chris Rabb)
  9. Ensuring that producers of plastic packaging take responsibility for the decisions they make by requiring that they cannot sell or distribute plastic packaging in Pennsylvania unless they are part of a recycling program to take it back. (Rep. Melissa Shusterman)
  10. Providing for a fee of two cents on each non-reusable plastic bag used by purchasers of consumer goods at retail establishments grossing over $1 million annually to support recycling. (Rep. Brian Sims and Rep. Jared Solomon)
  11. To bring back bottle bills:Creating a 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania. (Rep. Wendy Ullman)
  12. Require all new state buildings, as well as those being renovated, to install water bottle filling stations. (Rep. Perry Warren)
  13. Overhauling the state’s electronic waste recycling law by using measures implemented in other states. (Rep. Mike Zabel)

As Masur said in a press release,

“Every day, unwitting Pennsylvanians are barraged with products that we’re expected to purchase and use, and then throw away. Only, there is no ‘away,’. Instead, it ends up in landfills where it can cause water pollution, in incinerators that cause air pollution, or blowing around in our neighborhoods in the form of litter.”

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our environment, neighborhoods, rivers and oceans for centuries to come.”

David Masur, Executive Director, PennEnvironment

How to Support these Zero Waste PA Bills

We’ll share calls-to-actions shortly. Here are two currently on the PennEnvironment website:

PennEnvironment currently has a petition to ban Styrofoam.

Stop drinking single-use water bottles. Sign the pledge:

You’ll likely see rebuttals for many of these bills in coming weeks and months. When you do, check who is disbursing the information – it may likely be special interests and corporate lobby groups.

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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