Capitol Connection: Recycling in CT

June 4, 2014

From the Office of Senator Kevin Witkos

Reduce, reuse, recycle. We are all familiar with those words and how they can be applied to everyday living. But have you ever wondered how much trash really gets recycled in Connecticut?

Every person produces over five pounds of solid trash every day. But only about one pound gets recycled, while four pounds remain garbage. According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), that means every person in our state produces almost ¾ ton of trash each year. With over 3 million residents in Connecticut, it’s no wonder our state is working hard to increase recycling.

This year the state legislature passed a new law that seeks to dramatically transform the way Connecticut recycles waste throughout the state. Currently, Connecticut recycles about 25% of all trash, according to the DEEP. The new law will require our state to increase our recycling rate to 60% within the next 10 years. This is great news for our environment, but it also means a lot of important work ahead.

Under the new legislation, the state plans to do the following to increase recycling:

  • Establish a lean and efficient organization to promote and manage innovation
  • Seek proposals from industry experts to redevelop Connecticut’s waste management system
  • Modernize solid waste management infrastructure
  • Promote the recycling of construction and demolition debris
  • Develop municipal recycling programs
  • Create “RecycleCT” – a statewide education initiative to encourage recycling

The first step in implementing the new law involves administrative restructuring. In the past, a state organization called the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) managed recycling. The new law dissolves the CRRA and establishes the leaner Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) in its place. MIRA will aim to reduce spending by employing a smaller staff and promoting more innovative and efficient recycling technology.

The second step is identifying a good plan for change. Once established, MIRA will work with the DEEP commissioner to redevelop the Connecticut Solid Waste Management System. The law requires MIRA and the DEEP to seek proposals from industry experts and present a new plan to the General Assembly by February 1, 2016.

In addition to improving our environment, increased recycling is also good news for our wallets. It has been estimated that a recycling rate of just 40% would save municipalities and taxpayers $35 million a year, according to the DEEP’s 2013 Program Report Card for Recycling in CT. With that number in mind, I think we can all look forward to reaching our 60% goal for many reasons.

Here in Connecticut, recycling is a part of many people’s everyday habits and practices, but there is still so much more we can do to reduce waste and improve trash management. This legislation is surely a step in the right direction, and I look forward to what’s ahead.