Gov. Dannel Malloy pushes lawmakers for expansion of state recycling efforts

Apr 24th, 2014 | By | Category: Recycling

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy prodded state lawmakers to act before the end of the current General Assembly session to approve a legislative package that would more than double Connecticut’s recycling rate over a 10-year period and remake the quasi-public agency that oversees solid waste disposal in the state.

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From Gov. Malloy’s office:

MODERNIZING RECYCLING AND WASTE MANAGEMENT WILL CREATE ECONOMIC BENEFITS AND HELP THE ENVIRONMENT

Bill Will Reduce Costs and Environmental Impacts of Waste Disposal

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today urged the legislature to act on his proposal to double the state’s recycling rate and transform an outmoded system of trash disposal by adopting a more modern, cost-effective, and 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 facilities,” Governor Malloy said.  “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.”

Among other changes, the Governor’s proposal:

  • Sets a 60% target rate for reducing solid waste disposal by increasing source reduction, recycling, and reuse.  The current reported recycling rate is under 30%.
  • Reshapes the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) – a quasi-public entity that owns and operates the waste-to-energy plant in Hartford – into a leaner organization focused on promoting innovation in materials management.
  • Creates a process to explore the repurposing of the CRRA facility, Connecticut’s largest, oldest, and least efficient waste-to-energy plant, to recover more materials of value from trash and to provide better, cheaper service for member communities.
  • Creates “RecycleCT” – a statewide education initiative to promote recycling, much the way “EnergizeCT” is promoting energy efficiency and renewables.

 

The legislation, Senate Bill 27An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Recycling and Materials Management Strategy, was reported out of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee and Government Administration and Elections Committee with strong bipartisan backing and now awaits action in the Senate.

Governor Malloy noted that the proposal builds on the success of two “producer responsibility” programs now operating in Connecticut that have established industry financed systems for the collection and recycling of obsolete electronics equipment and used paint – and on a pioneering approach to the diversion of food wastes and other organic materials from the waste stream through the use of anerobic digestors.

Business and residents in Connecticut currently produce approximately 3.2 million tons of municipal solid waste each year.  Approximately 64.5% of this trash is incinerated at the six waste-to-energy facilities, almost 24.8% is reported diverted from disposal through recycling, 9.9% percent is shipped out of state, and 0.8% percent is landfilled in Connecticut.

It is estimated that more than $10 million in valuable commodities are burned at the waste-to-energy facilities each year.

It has also been estimated that cities and towns and their taxpayers would save $35 million a year if the recycling rate was moved to just 40%.  Recycling is also a growth industry that creates jobs – experts say that for every 10,000 tons of waste generated recycling creates 36 jobs.

Governor Malloy said 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,” said State Senator Ed Meyer (D-Guilford), who serves as Senate chair of the Environment Committee.  “Connecticut now recycles only 25% of its solid waste, and 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 Representative Linda M. Gentile (D-Ansonia, Derby), House chair of the Environment Committee, said, “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.”

“This proposal is the result of countless hours of thoughtful analysis and deliberation by municipal officials, commercial haulers, waste facility representatives and environmental groups who served on task forces and working committees over the past two years,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.  “Their collective research, compilation of opinions from public hearings, and knowledge from first-hand experience has been critical to crafting this important legislation.”

“Just as we transitioned away from landfilling forty years ago, now is the time to transition away from incineration,” said Abe Scarr, Director of the Connecticut Public Interest Group (ConnPIRG).  “Connecticut burns more trash per person than any other state in the country and by wasting less and recycling more, we protect public health, save taxpayers money, and boost the economy.”

“Incinerators and other waste facilities are disproportionately placed in low-income and communities of color.  This environmental injustice exposes these communities to numerous adverse health effects from the toxic particulate matter released during the incineration process,” said Sharon Lewis, Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ), which has campaigned for years for alternatives to incineration.  “CCEJ is encouraged by the opportunity to replace the incinerator with recycling infrastructure and good, green jobs for our community.”

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