Who could oppose recycling? Nobody we know of, but unless the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection answers a top state lawmaker's question, a fee that provides $40 million a year to help local recycling programs may fade into the sunset. We recommend the department act quickly, before lawmakers think too much about tinkering with such programs.
The doubts about continuing a landfill fee were raised by Rep. John Barley, D-Lancaster, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Barley's concerns include the fact that the $40 million fund is too large to go without legislative scrutiny. Lancaster said his committee also questions how such grants are made, and whether providing municipalities with money gives them an unfair advantage over private sector recyclers.
This last concern is the easiest to deal with. If recycling were a wildly profitable business, entrepreneurs would be setting up redemption centers all over the place. The fact is that while aluminum remains a desired commodity and newsprint prices have rebounded, there just isn't a whole lot of cash to be made (at the municipal level) in recycling plastics, glass or slick paper.