Hartford, Connecticut improves recycling numbers with new program

Hartford, Connecticut Mayor Eddie A. Perez announced promising early results of Hartford’s single-stream recycling pilot program “Go Green Use Blue.” The pilot program was instituted in May along selected recycling collection routes in the city.

As part of the program, approximately 4,500 households were provided 64 gallon carts to replace existing 14 and 18 gallon bins. All recyclable materials can be placed into the carts without separation, a process known as single-stream recycling.

In addition, households were given the opportunity to establish accounts with recycling rewards program, RecycleBank, to receive reward points for each pound of material placed in the cart. Points can be used to redeem goods and services at a number of local retail stores. The City and RecycleBank also provided an extensive, coordinated campaign to educate households about the program.

“So far, we are making the grade,” said Mayor Perez. “After 20 weeks of operation, Hartford’s recycling tonnage has more than doubled in the participating households – going from 8 tons per week to 17 tons per week of recyclable materials. More households have also increased the variety of items they are recycling as a result of educational efforts to inform citizens about what can be placed in the blue cart.”

Hartford has already saved approximately $22,000 by avoiding disposal fees for each ton of material diverted to the local Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority facility. The City currently pays $72 per ton to dispose of trash at CRRA’s trash-to-energy facility, but receives a $10 per ton rebate for the value of the recycled materials from CRRA.

“The City realizes about $75 in savings for each ton of material that we can take to the recycling facility,” said Clarence Corbin, director of the Department of Public Works.

The Hartford Recycling Pilot is a partnership between the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) and the City to demonstrate the effectiveness of best recycling management practices. Funding for the project was provided by the National Recycling Partnership (NRP), a coalition of beverage companies, grocers and grocery manufacturers, and the NRC to promote the implementation of such practices in all communities.

The Recycling Pilot is scheduled to run until May 2009, at which time NRC and the City will provide a more comprehensive analysis of program performance. In the meantime, a city-wide expansion of the single-stream program is already in discussion, and CRRA recently converted its recycling facility to accept single-stream materials from its member jurisdictions.