Connecticut governor seeks to boost state's recycling rate

Gov. Dannel Malloy says taxpayers and businesses will save millions of dollars a year in disposal costs.

May 6, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Municipal / IC&I
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has called for the state legislature to act on a proposal, Senate Bill 27 – An Act Concerning Connecticut's Recycling and Materials Management Strategy, which seeks to sharply increase the recycling rate in the state, as well as create economic benefits for state residents.

Additionally, the governor says the proposal is also looking to adopt a more cost-effective, environmentally sound materials management approach.

“Forty years ago, Connecticut became a national leader in waste management by ending the landfilling of trash and opening our six waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities,” Malloy says. “These plants have served us well, but it is now time to move our system squarely into the 21st century by adopting legislation that will allow us to strengthen our focus on recycling and recapture more of the valuable materials from our waste stream. This in turn will save taxpayers and businesses millions of dollars a year in disposal costs and better protect our air quality and the environment.”

Some of the changes included in the proposal are:
  • setting a 60 percent target rate for reducing solid waste disposal by increasing source reduction, recycling and reuse (The current reported recycling rate is less than 30 percent.);
  • reshaping the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA)—a quasi-public entity that owns and operates a WTE plant in Hartford—into a leaner organization focused on promoting innovation in materials management; 
  • creating a process to explore the repurposing of the CRRA facility—Connecticut’s largest, oldest and least efficient WTE plant—to recover more materials of value from trash and to provide better, cheaper service for member communities; and
  • creating “RecycleCT”—a statewide education initiative to promote recycling.

Senate Bill 27 was reported out of Connecticut’s General Assembly’s Environment Committee and Government Administration and Elections Committee and now is waiting to be assigned in the Senate.

Malloy notes that the recycling proposal builds on the success of two “producer responsibility” programs now operating in the state that have established industry-financed systems for collecting and recycling obsolete electronics equipment and used paint as well as an approach to diverting food wastes and other organic materials from the waste stream through the use of anaerobic digesters.

Of the roughly 3.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the state, 64.5 percent is incinerated at the six WTE facilities in Connecticut; 24.8 percent is diverted through recycling; 9.9 percent is shipped out of state; and 0.8 percent is landfilled in the state.

However, proponents of the more ambitious recycling goals say that roughly $10 million in recyclables are burned at the facilities each year. The state notes that the cities could save $35 million a year if the recycling rate was moved to just 40 percent.

Malloy says the bill, which was based on the recommendations of his Modernizing Recycling Working Group, has the strong support of municipal leaders and public interest groups across the state.

“Making a move toward a 21st century system of waste management is critical to Connecticut’s environmental and economic health,” says State Sen. Ed Meyer, who serves as Senate chair of the Environment Committee.

Meyer continues, “Connecticut now recycles only 25 percent of its solid waste. We need to do better. Upgrading our state’s recycling capabilities will create new, green jobs and help conserve millions of dollars by recycling reusable materials. This is all on top of the great environmental benefit it brings to our state when we cut down on incineration and other less clean forms of waste disposal.”

State Rep. Linda M. Gentile, House chair of the Environment Committee, says, “This bill is important in raising the bar for increased recycling. With diligence, hitting these goals will save money for both the state and taxpayers and opens the door to the creation of more ‘green’ jobs.”