HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell said Pennsylvania communities collected a record 5.48 million tons of recyclable materials in 2008, demonstrating that the state continues to make great strides at improving recycling opportunities. The governor said Pennsylvania supports communities that recycle because of its environmental and economic benefits. He announced more than $17.8 million in grants today to help 478 communities in 58 counties continue their recycling programs. The grant totals were based on the amount of materials each community recycled and their recycling participation rate in 2008.Recycling has continued to expand in Pennsylvania. The total amount collected in 2008 for recycling was 1.5 million tons greater than in 2002. “Today, more than 11.6 million state residents, or 94 percent of the population, have access to recycling,” Rendell said. “The grants we’re announcing today are an important part of ensuring those programs can continue and they provide an incentive for communities to expand their programs when possible. “That’s incredibly important because recycling benefits our environment and it benefits our economy, as well. As a state, we’ve recycled more than 37 million tons of material in the past eight years. Rather than families and businesses paying to dispose of those items in a landfill, they’re turning them into new raw materials that manufacturers can use at a lower cost than it takes to buy new materials.”The grants the governor announced were made possible through the Recycling Performance Grant Program. Act 101 initiated statewide recycling in 1988, which requires Pennsylvania’s communities with certain populations to offer recycling programs. By recycling, Pennsylvanians have saved almost 98 trillion British Thermal units of energy each year, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2.5 million metric tons per year—the equivalent of shutting down three large coal-fired power plants or removing 1.7 million vehicles from the road for a year. The materials Pennsylvanians recycle support more than 3,800 businesses and organizations. Those businesses and organizations account for more than $20.6 billion in gross annual sales and provided jobs for more than 52,000 employees at an annual payroll of approximately $2.2 billion.“We have a good track record on recycling because Pennsylvanians want to do what’s right for their environment,” said the governor. “We’re committed to recycling today and for years to come because it’s important.”The legislature overwhelmingly approved and the Governor signed Act 24 earlier year to ensure the existing $2-per-ton fee on all waste disposed at municipal waste landfills is extended through Jan. 1, 2020. That fee supports recycling in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the governor last month signed Act 108, which creates a recycling program for electronic waste items such as televisions, computers and other electronic equipment. The program will be funded by electronic manufacturers and will prevent toxic substances like cadmium, lead and mercury from polluting the environment. The Recycling Performance Grant Program provides incentive to help Pennsylvania communities increase the amount of materials recovered through recycling. The value of the grant awards are based on the total tons recycled and the applicant’s recycling rate.For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us.