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New Report finds CT EPR Programs Increase Recycling, Save Money, Create Jobs and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Focus on thermostats, e-waste, paint and mattresses yielding results that can be replicated with other products

An innovative approach to recycling in Connecticut that involves support from industries that produce and sell various products is increasing recycling, reducing trash disposal costs for cities and towns, creating jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions linked to Climate Change.
The report, “Connecticut Extended Producer Responsibility Program Evaluation: Summary and Recommendations,” focused on so-called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for the collection and recycling of used or unwanted electronics equipment, thermostats, paint, and mattresses.
Prepared by the Product Stewardship Institute (PRI) for Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the report found:
  • The four EPR programs diverted more than 26 million pounds of material from waste, yielded a cumulative cost savings of more than $2.6 million per year to Connecticut municipalities, and industries involved provided recycling services worth another $6.7 million.
  • CT EPR programs led to the creation of more than 100 jobs and reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 13 million kg of carbon equivalent.
  • EPR programs have given CT residents more and convenient access to recycling of thermostats, paint, electronics and mattresses. 
  • Total e-scrap recovery steadily increased from 3.7 million pounds (2009) to 18.6 million pounds (2015)
  • Collection of mercury thermostats ranged from 1551-2123 (2008-2013) and rose significantly to 2866 (2015) as a result of 2012 EPR legislation requiring manufacturer’s to collect and recycle these items.
  • Total paint recovery increased significantly from 149,000 gallons (2010) – prior to establishment of the program to recycle paint – to 320,000 gallons (2016).
  • Before the mattress stewardship program was implemented, CT recycled about 8.7% of discarded mattresses.  Since the start of the program in 2015, more than 130,000 units or 63.5% of discarded mattresses have been collected for recycling.
“The PSI report clearly demonstrates that EPR is a great tool to help us recycle more, help municipalities save money, create jobs and also meet the states goal of reducing GHG emissions.” Said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee.  “The report also makes it clear that EPR can play a key role in helping us achieve Connecticut’s ambitious goal of diverting 60% of our trash from the waste stream by 2024.” 
“This comprehensive evaluation, the first of its kind in the U.S., demonstrates the significant economic and environmental gains that EPR programs have achieved in Connecticut and the potential these programs have to reduce local government costs and increase recycling nationwide,” said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer and founder of Product Stewardship Institute. “We applaud CT DEEP for evaluating the successes, challenges, and opportunities of their EPR programs – a critical step in strengthening these laws and ensuring their success within the emerging circular economy.”
In July 2016, Connecticut adopted a new Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy (CMMS) aimed at reducing waste, increasing reuse, recycling, and composting, and focusing on the development of waste conversion technologies.
The CMMS lays out strategies to achieve the diversion of 60% of waste from the waste stream.  In addition to focusing on EPR, the strategies included improving the performance of municipal materials management programs, and developing and improving recycling and waste conversation technologies.
Under the PSI study, Connecticut’s four EPR programs –  electronics, thermostats, paint and mattresses – were all evaluated and examined in terms of their collection programs, environmental impacts of the program, convenience to residents, costs of the program and the financial savings (if any), and jobs created.  The report also includes comparisons of CT’s programs to other states, both in the region and nationally.
The PSI report showed that: 
  • Connecticut ranked 11th (2014) out of 25 states with electronic stewardship programs for collection of e-waste.
  • CT was ranked 9th among 13 states (2014) with the thermostat EPR program. 
  • Connecticut’s paint recycling program is off to a strong start.
    • On a per capita basis, Connected collected more paint than California and Rhode Island.
  • The mattress stewardship program was completing its first year during the completion of this report.
    • Number of mattresses disposed decreased from about 115,000 in 2014 to 77,000 in FY2016
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