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Statewide Recycling Data

To promote and emphasize recycling and waste reduction in the commonwealth, Act 101, directs municipalities, counties, and the department to report information on materials recycled annually. Municipalities are to report their recycling program information and the weight or volume of the materials they recycled to their counties. This information is reviewed and further compiled by the county recycling coordinator, who then enters this information into a statewide recycling database. The department then reviews the data and information submitted by the counties annually and provides summaries on the impact of recycling in Pennsylvania and annual statewide recycling data reports.

Any municipality may report recycling data and information. Act 101 mandates certain municipalities based on population and population density to establish and maintain recycling programs and to report their recycling program information. Mandated municipalities are determined following each decennial U.S. census. The most recent U.S. census was in 2020. Pennsylvania currently has 474 mandated municipalities.

In 2022, over 5.46 million tons of recyclable materials were collected and processed in Pennsylvania. This removed the equivalent of more than 7.57 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from the air. This number is equal to over 1.69 million passenger vehicles taken off the road for one year. These same recycled resources are also equal to eliminating the electricity used in nearly 1.47 million homes per year.

Pennsylvania’s recycling experienced an increase of 0.83 million tons in 2022 from the prior year, 2021, a 17.9% increase. In 2022, 32 counties reported more materials recycled and 35 counties reported less materials recycled. As expected, overall recycling tonnages in Pennsylvania have increased as the impacts of the pandemic becomes more distant.

Summary of Environmental Benefits Analysis Table

Larger version of the Environmental Equivalency Summary table.

NOTE: Equivalents have been re-evaluated to include tonnages from Comingled Materials; therefore, are higher than in previous reports.

*Number is high due to unusual increase in amount recycled for Mixed Metals that year.

Total recycling in PA graph

Larger version of the Total Recycling in Pennsylvania graph.