CRRA Restructuring Bill Clears Senate, Will Increase Recycling [Hartford Courant]

May 4, 2014

By DANIELA ALTIMARI | The Hartford Courant

HARTFORD — A sweeping bill that restructures the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and seeks to sharply increase the state’s recycling rate cleared the state Senate late Friday.

“This bill will help make Connecticut a leader in recycling and innovation waste management,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said minutes after the measure was approved on a unanimous vote. “The modernization effort called for in this bill can save our towns and cities millions of dollars, grow jobs, and protect our environment.”

The bill, which still needs the approval of the House, sets a target for the state to recycle or reuse 60 percent of its trash by 2024. Now, about 25 percent is recycled.

“This bill does help to move our energy policy in the state of Connecticut forward,” said Sen. Clark Chapin, R-New Milford.

The bill proposes a dramatic reshaping of the CRRA, the financially troubled, quasi-public entity that owns and operates the waste-to-energy plant in Hartford. It would be renamed the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority.

“The new agency that will be running this will take bids from companies to … put it in to a more modern recycling facility,” said Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford. “What we’re doing here is reforming the movement of solid waste.”

For centuries, municipalities simply tossed their trash into landfills. A few decades ago, thinking shifted and burning trash to generate energy became the dominant policy.

The new emphasis is on recycling, Meyer said. “We’re going to be a leader in the country … away from landfills, away from burning and toward recycling.”

In addition to helping the environment, Meyer said the bill could also generate money. He estimated that millions of dollars worth of otherwise valuable trash is currently being burned at the CRRA plant. “We’re burning $10 million worth of solid waste that could be sold,” he said. “This could be a $10 million cash cow.”