In The Loop

Welcome to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority's Blog

Going Green in the New Year

December 20, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Each new year comes with a promise of a fresh start, new experiences and for some, resolutions. It’s not too late to resolve to go green in 2019! Here are some simple and easy resolutions that contribute to a healthier planet.

Plastic Water Bottles: Ditch Them!
Buying bottled water not only costs money, but also generates plastic waste. In fact, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times. Instead, invest in an at-home filtering pitcher or a reusable bottle made from aluminum, glass or recycled plastic.

Reusable Bags: A Must Have
Plastic bags are a huge drain on the environment, taking 15 to 1,000 years to decompose. Only 2% of bags are recycled each year, and the rest are sent to landfills or make their way to pollute our oceans. Next time you make a trip to the grocery story, consider using a reusable bag. Washable and sturdy, reusable bags make shopping trips more convenient and ecofriendly.

Cut Back on Paper Towels
Did you know 13 billion pounds of paper towels end up in landfills every day? Investing in a few cotton cloths and some fabric napkins can help reduce paper waste significantly. When the fabric napkins get dirty, just run them through the laundry. Cloth alternatives are not only less wasteful, but more economical.

Switch to Rechargeable Batteries
According to the EPA, Americans throw away more than 3 billion batteries every year. Many of these batteries will end up in landfills, taking up land as a precious resource. Make the switch to rechargeable batteries. This will decrease your battery consumption to a fraction it was before, saving you money, and producing less waste.

If the holidays have left you with a pile of old batteries you don’t know what to do with, LCSWMA offers free battery bags to Lancaster County residents. Place the bag next to your garbage can, or deliver it to our Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Harrisburg Pike for free disposal. To request bags or for more information, email us at

Proper Disposal of Waste
When it comes to disposal, not all waste is the same. For instance, paint and electronics should not be placed in your trash can. Household hazardous waste (HHW) should be delivered to LCSWMA’s HHW Facility, free to Lancaster County residents. For a complete list of materials accepted at the HHW Facility, view our Resident’s Guide.

Tags: Green Tips · Recycling

Christmas Tree Recycling

December 14, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

The following are some suggested Christmas Tree Drop-Offs. All trees must be contaminant-free. No tree stands or plastic (including bags), wire, ornaments, lights, nails, tinsel, etc. may remain on the trees. No yard waste is accepted.

1. Lancaster County Central Park – main entrance located along Chesapeake Street, Lancaster. Call the Park Office at 717-299-8215 during regular business hours for additional information and instructions. Trees may be dropped off daily from December 26 through January 31 dawn to dusk. Mulch will be available free to the public beginning January 4 on a first come, first served basis. Persons desiring free mulch should provide their own pitchfork or shovel and a bag or trailer for transporting the mulch. There is a three (3) tree per vehicle limit and a $1.00/tree donation is requested and appreciated to support the Dr. John Moss Native Tree Nursery in the park. Not for commercial collection.

2. Martin Mulch Products – located at 55 Woodcrest Drive, Ephrata. Call 717-733-1602 with questions. Trees may be dropped off Monday through Saturday between dawn and dusk. Single trees are $2.00 each; the price varies for larger deliveries.
3. Zeager Brothers – located at 4000 East Harrisburg Pike, Middletown. Call 717-944-7481 with questions. Trees may be dropped off Monday through Friday between 6 am and 6 pm and on Saturdays from 8 am until noon. No charge. Zeager Brothers will be closed for business on December 25 and January 1.

Many municipalities offer curbside collection of trees through their contract program; other municipalities offer drop-off locations for residents. CLICK HERE for a list of participating municipalities. Residents are encouraged to contact their municipal office for more information about programs in their community.

Tags: Recycling

Decorating Green for the Holidays

December 14, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Did you know, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans throw away one million extra tons of garbage each week?

Many celebrate the holidays as a season of giving, and one of the most important gifts we can give is to make choices that help ensure a sustainable future for our community and environment. “Going Green” is easier than you think, and small changes can make a big difference.

Here are a few eco-friendly decorating tips to get you in the spirit of “going green” this holiday season:

A favorite holiday activity is the tour of beautiful lights adorning homes and businesses in our community. While lovely to look at, holiday lighting can increase energy consumption.

When decorating with lights, consider more efficient LED bulbs. Though more costly up front, they last longer and use less electricity. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost about $18, while the same number of LED lights costs only $0.19. As an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.

Christmas Trees: Live or Fake?
For some, the Christmas tree is a focal point of holiday decorations. Artificial trees are a first choice for many because they can be displayed for several years, and seemingly reduce the number of trees being cut down.

Surprisingly though, live Christmas trees may actually be the most sustainable choice. Most are grown on tree farms where, in many cases, represent the only crop the soil can support. They also provide shelter for native animal and bird species.

Many artificial trees, however, are made with petroleum-based plastics and have a much larger carbon footprint than live trees. This is largely due to their manufacturing origin, which is often international countries like China.

Buying a live tree from a local tree farm or stand, also supports local businesses, and in turn, the community.

TIP: If you’re planning to go with a live tree, remember to recycle it when the season ends. You can mulch the tree or process it into firewood. There are some suggested Christmas Tree Drop-Offs in Lancaster County, and many municipalities offer curbside collection. For more information, click here.

Decorating “Green”.
While bright shiny tinsel and plastic snowflakes look very nice around the house, they contribute to a significant amount of annual holiday waste. Using organic material for holiday decorations is a great way to decorate in a sustainable manner. Many stores sell live wreaths, holiday arrangements or ornaments. Don’t forget! Organic decorations can be composted. Check out these tips for composting.

Looking for a holiday activity you can do with friends and family? Make your own decorations! Here are some fun green DIY holiday decoration ideas.


LCSWMA Looks to Add Satellite Transfer Station

October 19, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

LCSWMA announces its consideration of adding a satellite transfer station in Northeast Lancaster County.

At their October 19th public meeting, LCSWMA’s Board of Directors approved the $1.06 million purchase of a 13-acre parcel of land on Muddy Creek Road (near the Reading/Lancaster Interchange of the PA Turnpike) in East Cocalico Township, where the proposed satellite transfer station would be located. 


The future facility would consolidate the delivery and transfer of waste from several municipalities, in a rapidly-growing area in Lancaster County, with the goal of diverting 7-10% of current inbound transactions from LCSWMA’s main transfer station on Harrisburg Pike.  LCSWMA estimates the satellite transfer station could be permitted to receive approximately 400 tons of waste per day.

The location of the property provides numerous benefits, including its proximity to the PA Turnpike Interchange for convenient transfer of waste to LCSWMA’s Susquehanna Resource Management Complex in Harrisburg.  Additionally, the parcel of land is located within an industrial zone, where the roads are designed for truck-related businesses.  Finally, there are no residential houses near the site.

“This future facility would help LCSWMA better manage waste consolidation in a growing market,” says Bob Zorbaugh, LCSWMA’s Co-CEO.  “As we continue to see record waste tonnage growth in Lancaster County, it’s important we’re positioned to handle this waste safely and efficiently.”

Advantages of the potential satellite transfer station include: reduced bottlenecks at the Harrisburg Pike transfer station; reduced travel time for waste haulers that serve customers in northern Lancaster County; reduced traffic from northern Lancaster County on local highways (Routes 222, 272, and 30); and benefits to East Cocalico Township through host municipality fees, convenient waste disposal for homeowners, and creation of new high-quality jobs.


“East Cocalico Township is excited to partner with LCSWMA and see their project come to fruition,” says Scott Russell, Manager for East Cocalico Township. “Having a local transfer station at a strategic location at the Denver Interchange will greatly benefit all of the residents and businesses in Norther Lancaster County with improved convenience and service.”

LCSWMA is in the initial planning stages of this project.  Next steps are to complete site design, along with securing permits from East Cocalico Township, PA Department of Environmental Protection, and PennDOT.  While there is no definitive operational start date, LCSWMA anticipates this project could take upwards of 5-years to complete.

LCSWMA’s main transfer station on Harrisburg Pike receives about 1,400 tons per day from over 450 vehicles and would continue serving the rest of Lancaster County.

The purpose of a transfer station is to offer convenient delivery of waste for commercial haulers, residents, and businesses.  Additionally, a transfer station also reduces the congestion of waste collection vehicles on local roads and highways.

Tags: Authority Projects

The Recycling Crisis: How Did We Get Here?

September 24, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Hopefully by now, you’ve heard that recycling has changed in Lancaster County. Residents should place only the “Big 4” in their recycling bins: 1) corrugated cardboard, 2) plastic bottles and jugs with a neck, 3) metal food and beverage cans, and 4) glass bottles and jars.

But you may not have heard that Lancaster County is not the only community impacted by recent recycling changes. The “recycling crisis” has created significant challenges for recycling programs across the United States. So, how did we get here?

For many years, well-meaning “wishful recyclers” have incorrectly believed that most things are recyclable. In part, this misconception grew from the waste industry’s desire to facilitate a convenient process for recyclers. The message was: “Put it all in your bin. We’ll sort it later.” Unfortunately, this convenience turned problematic when contamination levels increased. Contamination happens when people place materials in the recycling bin that do not belong. And the largest importer of recyclable materials from the U.S. said “no more.”

Previously, China was the largest consumer of recyclable materials generated in the United States. Growing frustrated by high contamination in imported recycling bales, China announced their “National Sword” campaign in summer 2017. This initiative enforced a crackdown on imported waste and communicated China’s intent to ban most recyclable materials, including post-consumer plastic and mixed paper. Among the changes was also the announcement of a new quality standard prohibiting contamination to .5%, which was significantly more stringent than the previously acceptable rate of 5%. And the hits kept coming. In July 2018, China announced their plan to ban all imported recycled commodities by the end of 2018.

So where does this leave us? Unfortunately, the United States does not have enough domestic demand for recyclable materials to replace the volume China previously bought. Meaning, the market is saturated with more recyclable material than our country can use. An important point to remember is that something can only be recycled if there is a demand for that material, by a manufacturer, to be turned into a new product for consumers to buy.

This big shift in the market caused significant ripple effects, including lost revenues, higher processing and capital costs for material recovery facilities (MRFs), higher transportation costs, fewer outlets for materials and increased stockpiling issues. MRFs (re: facilities that separate, bale and market the recyclables you put in your bin) are now in a financial crisis.  A reset is imperative to fix the contamination problem and help make recycling sustainable.

In Lancaster County, we believe the solution is three-fold: 1) simplicity, 2) consistency, 3) and awareness. We’re simplifying the recycling process by asking people to only place the “Big 4” in their recycling bin. We’re standardizing the message by working with municipalities, haulers and business partners to all follow the same guidelines across the county. And we’re raising awareness by publicizing the need to Recycle Right through an integrated PSA campaign, so people can learn to recycle right.

We know this is a huge shift for our community, and change will not come overnight. But if we work together, perhaps recycling can be better than it was before. Let’s Recycle Right Lancaster!

Tags: In The News · Recycling

Keystone SWANA's Fall Conference: Waste Management in PA Presentation

September 05, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Keystone SWANA's Fall Conference attendees may access Jim Warner's presentation here, and presentation data here.



In the News: Lancaster County Residents Struggling with Recycling 'Reset'

August 08, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Ad Crable, LancasterOnline
Orginally published August 8, 2018

Three weeks after Lancaster County waste officials announced they were scaling back curbside recycling, many residents are still putting banned items in their bins.

“We have a huge hurdle in front of us,” said Katie Sandoe of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. “People are still confused and working through the emotions of it. Many are saying, ‘It just feels wrong.’ ”

About 20 to 40 percent of the material being set out in curbside recycling containers should instead be placed in the trash, according to Sandoe.

The newly banned items include newspaper, magazines and many types of plastics, among other things.

Lancaster County was one of the first areas in Pennsylvania to react to a market collapse of recycling materials in the United States.

Here is a breakdown of some of the questions and concerns of county residents as they react to the recycling reset.

Why do we have to stop curbside recycling of newly banned items?

The recycling logjam was brought on by an unforeseen decision by China to stop taking many recyclables altogether and insist on uncontaminated material for other.

A rapidly developing China had been gobbling up half the world’s recycled paper and plastic. Now that it’s using many of its own resources, it doesn’t need the material, and the unwanted trash mixed in with recyclables from the U.S. has created a waste disposal problem.

Faced with no market or uncertain markets for some materials, the Lancaster County waste authority chose to cut out some recycling staples that residents had long thrown in their green recycling bins and hauled to the curb each week.

(These items include newspaper, office paper, magazines, yogurt cups, plastic food containers, bottle caps and cereal boxes.)

Instead, accepted recyclables have been trimmed to the “Big Four”: flattened corrugated cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs with necks, metal food and beverage cans, and glass jars and bottles. All containers must be empty, rinsed and caps removed.

Isn't this a step backward for recycling in Lancaster County?

The authority says materials now being recycled have long been in strong demand for making new products and are likely to have a strong market in the future.

The transition has been tough on avid recyclers who have long been mixing in nonrecyclable items in a behavior known as “wishful recycling,” said Sandoe.

“This is what led to the whole issue with China to begin with,” she said. “People aren’t sure what is truly recyclable so they are putting everything into their recycling bins.”

Also, curbside recycling only amounts to 14 percent of the 255,000 tons of recyclables collected in Lancaster County last year.

Recycling from businesses and institutions is largely unaffected, as they sell their material directly to recycling processors. The main problem has arisen in the processing phase of recyclables from areas where curbside collection has introduced contaminated items.

Can some items banned from curbside recycling bins still be recycled somewhere?

Yes. The authority urges residents to separate items such as newspapers, office paper, Styrofoam and other material and take it to recycling drop-off centers around the county.

For example, Lancaster city’s recycling center at 850 New Holland Ave. accepts newspapers, magazines and office paper. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

“I’m hoping we have a big uptick because I’d much rather see it brought to the recycling center than it be dumped into trash, even though I know it would be made into electricity,” said Charlotte Katzenmoyer, the city’s public works director.

She said the city still has buyers for the material, even though revenue for it has declined. She said city workers do a good job of processing the material and removing items that would contaminate it.

Another place that accepts newspapers, magazines and office paper from the public on a drop-off basis is Mennonite Central Committee’s Material Resources Center at 517 W. Trout Run Road, Ephrata.

The website has a database where you can plug in your address and item you want to recycle to find the nearest outlets. LNP has found, however, that some of the places listed are no longer in operation.

Won't items no longer being recycled just be taken to the County landfill and fill up sooner?

No, Sandoe said. Unlike most communities in the United States, where materials no longer recycled are being taken to landfills, in Lancaster County the material is taken to the trash-to-energy incinerator and converted into electricity.

The increase in incinerator ash taken to the landfill will be minimal, she said.

But doesn’t that mean more air pollution to already poor air quality in Lancaster County?

The waste-to-energy facility incinerator has an extensive emissions control system and emissions are significantly under limits set by state and federal agencies, Sandoe said.

Why does Penn Waste still collect newspaper and plastics banned in Lancaster County?

Penn Waste is the contracted hauler of curbside recyclables and trash for Lancaster city, and Lancaster, West Lampeter, Mount Joy and Rapho townships.

It also is a recycling processor and continues to take some materials now banned in Lancaster County. Penn Waste’s website advises Lancaster County customers to follow the waste authority’s new guidelines.

Tags: In The News · Recycling

3/24/2018: Extended Hours for Transfer Station and SRMC

March 23, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Resulting from the recent snow storm, the Transfer Station and Susquehanna Resource Management Complex will have extended hours Saturday, March 24 as follows:

  • The Transfer Station will be open 6 am to 12 noon

  • The Susquehanna Resource Management Complex will be open 5 am to 1pm

All other facilities will operate normal hours. For more info, visit

Tags: SRMC · Transfer Station · Weather

3/22/2018: LCSWMA Facility Hours

March 21, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

With the exception of the Main Office, which will open at 9am, LCSWMA’s facilities will have normal operating hours Thursday, March 22. For facility hours visit:

Tags: In The News · Weather

LCSWMA Facilities Closed Due to Weather Conditions

March 21, 2018 · By LCSWMA Admin ·

Due to weather conditions, LCSWMA's facilities will close early Wednesday, March 21: 

  • Main Office now closed

  • ​Transfer Station closes at 1pm

  • Lancaster Waste-to-Energy Facility closes at 12 noon

  • ​Frey Farm Landfill closes at 12 noon

  • Susquehanna Resource Management Complex closes at 12 noon

  • Household Hazardous Waste Facility closes at 12 noon

The main office will reopen at 9am Thursday, March 22. Please stay tuned for details on facility hours.

Tags: In The News