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RecycleCT Foundation Awards More than $150,000 in Funding Through Lee Sawyer Community Waste Reduction Grant Program

Grants Awarded to Projects That Will Increase Waste Prevention, Reuse, Recycling and Composting in Connecticut

(HARTFORD)—The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the RecycleCT Foundation are pleased to announce more than $150,000 in grants awarded to local municipalities and organizations in the inaugural grant round of the Lee Sawyer Community Waste Reduction & Recycling Grant program, which supports waste reduction and reuse in addition to recycling and composting efforts.


The grant program was created earlier this year in memory of former DEEP Chief of Staff Lee Sawyer, who passed away on Oct. 31, 2020. Lee was incredibly dedicated to the mission of DEEP, and was instrumental in the creation of the RecycleCT Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the importance of managing materials more sustainably through waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting.

The grant program is intended to fund projects that reduce or eliminate solid waste at its source, promote sustainable reuse of existing materials, promote recycling of materials not currently being captured, or increase diversion of Connecticut’s mandatory and non-mandatory recyclables and organics from incineration or landfill. Projects should help communities build lasting capacity to either reduce waste, reuse/divert materials from the waste stream, or increase public awareness of waste reduction and recycling. 

Most of us can recite the 3-R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. But not everyone understands how to prevent waste or increase their reuse activities. With waste reduction and reuse set higher in the solid waste hierarchy, RecycleCT chose to split the grant RFP into two categories: Waste Reduction and Reuse; and Recycling and Diversion. 

Thirty-three applications were received requesting over $393,000. RecycleCT funded seven reduction/reuse projects focused on funding recovery of food for human consumption, creative reuse of scrap materials in the arts, and economic development projects engaging in skill development with recovered food making new products and deconstruction of buildings for contractors; as well as eight projects that focus on recycling from expanding municipal composting, educating residents about recycling and job skill development with worm composting. 

“We wanted to encourage more waste reduction and reuse applications, which are often harder projects to implement,” said Kim O’Rourke, RecycleCT Board member. “And we had great results. We had seven strong proposals with waste prevention or reuse initiatives that were chosen to receive over $66,000 and recycling and diversion initiatives will receive over $83,000.” 

“I am thrilled to see the innovative programs focused on waste reduction, reuse, recycling and diversion that received funding under the Lee Sawyer Grant Program,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Lee was a champion of innovation and sustainability, from his involvement in the creation of RecycleCT, to advocating for strong sustainable management programs to help Connecticut including the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management.  “We continue to build on his hard work. My appreciation to the RecycleCT Foundation Board for naming this grant in honor of Lee and for prioritizing these important projects. Congratulations to the grant recipients, and thank you for all you’re doing to help Connecticut realize a more modern and sustainable waste system.” 

Lee Sawyer Community Waste Reduction & Recycling Grant recipients include: 

Waste Reduction & Reuse = $66,588.10 

  • Center for EcoTechnology, Inc. - $14,250.00 - Statewide 
    • Statewide building deconstruction education, outreach and technical assistance for municipalities and businesses engaged in demolition. 
  • Center for Food Equity and Economic Development/The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport – $14,250.00 – Greater Bridgeport, Fairfield County 
    • Funds to purchase a van and online software to increase amount and efficiency of recovery food for human consumption, including the development of new products linking with job skill training and employment. 
  • Haven’s Harvest - $13,062.50 – Greater New Haven, New Haven County 
    • Expand food recovery by increasing outreach to new business donors/partners and increase deliveries of recovered food to new sectors and communities. Includes increasing awareness of safety of consuming recovered food. 
  • Hebron Green Committee – $10,112.75 – Town of Hebron, Tolland County 
    • Create a swap shack at the town transfer station including signage, outreach, and educational materials and public space recycling bins 
  • EcoWorks, Inc. - $7,125.00 – Greater New Haven, New Haven County 
    • Artist led educational programs for creative reuse using used art supplies and coordination of swap events. 
  • Town of Old Saybrook/Rotary Club - $6,500.94 – Town of Old Saybrook, Middlesex County 
    • Create a swap shop at the town transfer station. 
  • Canterbury Public Library - $1,330.00 – Town of Canterbury, Windham County 
    • Create a tool lending library at town library, model for replication. 


Recycling & Waste Diversion = $83,775.30 

  • Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice - $14,250.00 – City of Hartford, Hartford County 
    • Pilot food scrap collection program designed to reach Black, Indigenous and People of Color testing 3 different and new food scrap collection approaches (curbside, “ice cream truck” and “bus stop”). Includes education, model for replication. 
  • City of West Haven - $14,250.00 – City of West Haven, New Haven County 
    • Expand municipal leaf compost operation to include food scraps, develop protocols for monitoring static aerated piles and testing finished compost in addition to collecting food scraps for the program. 
  • Fairfield Sustainable Task Force/Waste and Food Subcommittee - $14,250.00 – Town of Fairfield, Fairfield County 
    • Small pilot to start of collecting food scraps and processing on-site with food waste digester. Plans for expanding if successful, model for replication. 
  • Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority - $14,250.00 – Town of Ridgefield, HRRA region, Fairfield and Litchfield Counties 
    • Expand food scrap collection, composting-on site at town transfer station, educate residents on home composting, create options for residents seeking to divert food scraps. Uses diverse partnerships, model for replication. 
  • CLiCK - $10,366.40 – Greater Willimantic, Windham County 
    • Recover food scraps from commercial incubator kitchen, educate members and community about home composting. 
  • LEARN Transition Academy - $8468.80 – East Lyme, New London County 
    • Expansion of worm composting program to manage food scraps working with special education young adults which includes job/life skills. 
  • Hampton Green Energy Committee - $4,750.00 – Town of Hampton, Windham County 
    • Engage community to better understand food waste issues and home composting; includes mailer and kitchen containers to incentivize home composting. 
  • Town of Easton/Energy and Environmental Task Force - $3,190.10 – Town of Easton, Fairfield County 
    • Printing to provide recycling education. 

The RecycleCT Foundation is a Connecticut based 501c3 nonprofit that was started as a result of legislation in 2014 through Public Act 14-94. RecycleCT was created to help bring Connecticut from an estimated 35% to a 60% diversion of solid waste from disposal by 2024, as described in the Connecticut Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy, adopted by CT DEEP in 2016.

RecycleCT coordinates its What’s IN, What’s OUT program, which offers educational materials on its webpage, the RecycleCT Wizard APP or webpage search tool, research and grant programs. The School Recycling Grant program is seeking applications until October 25, 2021. Information and application forms can be round on RecycleCT’s webpage here.

Anyone is invited to make contributions to support RecycleCT generally, or to support the Lee Sawyer Community Waste Reduction and Recycling Grant. Those interested in contributing may do so on

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