The York County Board of Commissioners established the York County Solid Waste Authority in 1971 to ensure the adequate and proper disposal of all municipal solid waste generated in York County.
To address this challenge, the Authority developed a comprehensive integrated municipal waste management plan. Early on, the County recognized the need to emphasize waste reduction, reuse and recycling in its overall approach to waste management.
To meet the County’s waste management needs, the Authority purchased a parcel of land in Hopewell Township that became the site of the York County Sanitary Landfill. In August of 1974, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (now known as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) permitted portions of the 306-acre site and operations began in November 1974.
In 1979, the Authority began to consider investigating alternative waste disposal options for the County. In 1983, concerns about groundwater impacts at the landfill prompted the Authority to initiate remediation techniques to ensure safe operation. This action, coupled with the desire to use the best available waste management technology, intensified the Authority’s direction to pursue viable alternate methods of waste disposal.
After analyzing the needs of York County and carefully investigating methods of waste disposal, the Authority selected waste-to-energy technology — a proven environmentally sound and economically equitable method of waste management. In 1985, the original plan was updated to enable it to keep pace with the growing needs of the County and advances in waste management technology.
Plans for a waste-to-energy facility that could accommodate York County’s waste for at least 25 years were initiated. In 1987, construction of the Resource Recovery Center began at the Blackbridge Road site in Manchester Township. In October of 1989, the Center began processing York County waste and generating electricity.
While plans for the Resource Recovery Center were reaching fruition, another plan was about to begin. The passing of Act 101 (Pennsylvania’s Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act) in 1988 created a new law impacting solid waste management. Thus, the Authority began working in tandem with a Municipal Waste Advisory Committee (MWAC) to update the County’s 1985 waste management plan. The MWAC is comprised of individuals representing all classes of municipalities, citizen’s organizations, industry, private solid waste businesses, and the recycling industry. This two-year effort resulted in a blueprint for the management of municipal waste through the year 2015.
Because the Authority strives to serve the best interests of the citizens of York County, community representation is part of our major planning processes. The MWAC is responsible for reviewing the Authority’s implementation of the York County Municipal Waste Management Plan. This includes providing input and reviewing various tasks and studies being developed by the Authority.
Recycling is another important aspect of the Authority’s activities. Advising municipalities on curbside and drop-off center recycling programs is a key focus. Other programs such as an electronics recycling program, household hazardous waste collection programs and Christmas tree recycling further serve to decrease the County’s waste stream.
The Authority and its activities are self-supported from revenue generated through the sale of electricity from the Resource Recovery Center and customer disposal fees. The Authority’s annual operating budget is approximately $44 million. No York County tax dollars are used to fund the Authority. Additional funding for various projects is obtained through grant monies available from the state. This self-sufficiency enables the Authority to contain the cost of waste management in York County. The tipping fee (cost of disposal) at the York County Resource Recovery Center is $62 a ton.
Throughout its history, the Authority has accomplished its objectives through the efforts of a small staff and a committed volunteer board. Today, the Authority employs 26 people in four divisions: Engineering/Operations Division, Administrative Division, Recycling & Planning Division, and Community Services Division.
A nine-member volunteer board is appointed by the County Commissioners and participates actively in devoting countless hours to forwarding the goals of the Authority. The Authority holds a public meeting the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30PM at its Management Center, 2700 Blackbridge Road, Manchester Township. The public is invited to attend to learn more about Authority activities or to provide comment.