Local, State Coalition Finalize Recommendations to Advance Sustainable Solutions to Connecticut’s Solid Waste Crisis
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM), a joint initiative between 74 municipalities and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), yesterday finalized recommendations for local and statewide waste reduction options to address the state’s waste crisis.
These recommendations are the product of an extensive collaboration between DEEP, municipalities, industry professionals, and solid waste organizations across the country. Guided by a shared vision and commitment, the coalition focused on rethinking the current waste system to find preferred ways to reduce and manage the amount of in-state waste produced to provide system reliability, environmental sustainability, and fiscal predictability, in a manner that lessens impacts on environmental justice communities that host a disproportionate share of the state’s waste disposal infrastructure.
Since September, the CCSMM convened four working groups to identify solutions around reducing the waste stream, reusing materials, and increasing recycling. The working groups each held five working sessions to identify best practices to increase diversion and reduce waste generation across the state. All working group meetings were held virtually, open to the public, and recordings of each meeting are posted on the CCSMM website. In December, the CCSMM released a Menu of Options detailing dozens of individual, multi-town, and legislative options to accelerate sustainable materials management.
“The level of engagement on behalf of DEEP leadership and staff, CT municipalities, legislators and industry experts was impressive. The waste management crisis is real and it is complicated. However, I am encouraged that many municipalities, either individually or regionally, will implement some of the recommendations in the report, leading CT down a more sustainable path,” said Laura Francis, initiative co-chair and First Selectman of Durham, CT.
These recommendations and action items come at a critical time in Connecticut’s waste management sector, with the MIRA Resource Recovery facility facing potential closure and regional landfill capacity forecasted to decline by 40% by the mid-2020s. If nothing is done, residents and municipal leaders can expect tipping fees to increase at the remaining in-state waste-to-energy facilities, along with rates for out-of-state landfilling. Landfilling also exposes business and towns to unpredictable cost increases as they compete for transportation and landfill capacity as well as potential long-term liability if a landfill has a release or is otherwise a source of pollution in the future.
“The work of the CCSMM confirms that sustainable solutions are proven and available if we are willing to work together to advance them,” stated DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “DEEP is committed to working cooperatively with state, municipal, and industry partners this year to implement these solutions as positive changes in Connecticut’s waste management system to address this solid waste crisis.”
A meeting to finalize the CCSMM’s recommendations was held on Monday. A copy of that presentation is available online.
CCSMM recommendations include:
- Supporting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for packaging and difficult-to-recycle materials such as tires and gas cylinders, which would relieve municipalities’ cost burdens for collecting and managing these products.
- Implementing Unit-Based Pricing (UBP), a policy that meters trash similar to that of a utility and reduces waste drastically and immediately upon implementation.
- Supporting collection of food waste and other organic waste by strengthening the commercial organics diversion law, municipality hosted anaerobic digester, establishing community compost sites, and implementing residential food scrap collection programs.
- Modernizing the bottle bill.
- Requiring that products be made from a certain percentage of recyclables to boost markets for recycling commodities, and lower municipal recycling costs over time.
- Banning food serviceware with PFAS from being sold in Connecticut.
- Creating and promoting recycling at public spaces and municipal buildings.
“These forward-looking initiatives will reduce the costs of disposal now borne by taxpayers, improve recycling efficiencies and help protect our environment. I look forward to holding productive discussions with our state lawmakers,” said Matt Knickerbocker, initiative co-chair and First Selectman of Bethel, CT.
Municipalities that were not directly involved with CCSMM’s efforts are welcome to sign on any time by contacting James Albis at James.Albis@ct.gov.