Waste and Recycling


Clean Air Council’s Waste Program works to minimize waste through reduction, reuse, and recycling. The Council also works to keep toxic materials out of the municipal waste stream.  Waste is an air pollution concern because trash is often incinerated, which releases emissions, including air toxics, into the air.  Even when trash is buried in landfills, emissions and greenhouse gases are released into the air. The Council’s program works with individuals, as well as private and public entities, to promote effective waste and toxics reduction policies and programs. These policies and programs are critical to improving air and water quality and conserving energy and natural resources across the region.    


Clean Air Council first expanded its work to include solid waste issues in 1971 when it published the Citizen’s Handbook on Recycling.  During the 1980s, the Council joined with other Philadelphia activists to oppose trash-to-steam plants from being sited in Philadelphia.  In 1986, the Council settled a lawsuit against the Northwest incinerator, resulting in its eventual closure.  In 1988, the Council helped to draft mandatory recycling legislation; Philadelphia adopted the legislation, becoming the first major city in America to have such a law.  During the 1990s, Clean Air Council conducted citywide outreach to promote curbside recycling in Philadelphia. The Council operated the City of Philadelphia's Recycling Hotline, which received 1,000 calls per week. In 1998, the Council published the first Use It Again, Philly! guide to recycling, renting, repairing, and reuse. In 2002 the guide was used to create the statewide website Use It Again, PA!  As part of the Recycling Alliance of Philadelphia, the Council successfully lobbied the city to implement weekly, single-stream, incentive-based recycling.  The Council also helped Delaware to establish its own mandatory recycling law.  
  • Promote waste minimization through reducing, reusing and recycling.
  • Promote policies to keep toxic materials out of the municipal waste stream.