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February 2007

Connecticut needs drastic improvement in recycling

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection released the state’s new solid waste management plan that calls for reducing the amount of waste generated in part by dramatically increasing the rate of recycling.

The new Plan, which amends the 1991 plan, urges the state to consider broad new approaches to dealing with waste, including the following:

Dramatically increase the rate at which waste is diverted from disposal by increasing the amount reused, recycled and composted. The state’s current recycling rate is 30%, the goal as outlined in the new plan is 58%;

Maximizing resources to support and maintain infrastructure, partnerships, and education programs for recycling and waste reduction programs at the state and local level. This would ensure properly recycling items already required to be recycled and making environmentally sound choices in items purchased (such as items made from recycled materials);

  • Establish a recycling program for electronics;
  • Add certain types of plastics as well as magazines to the list of mandated recyclables and increase the volume of material available for recycling by expanding the bottle bill to include plastic water bottles;
  • Continue to support environmentally preferable purchasing by state government.

Projections show that by 2024, if waste generation continues at the current rate, Connecticut will produce 5.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) or the equivalent of 1.42 tons per person/per year or 7.7 pound per person/per day. If the recycling rate remained at the current rate of 30 percent, Connecticut would need to dispose of almost 3.7 million tons of MSW, an increase of almost one million tons from current levels.

"Here’s the bottom line – simply recycling that stray soda bottle and newspaper is no longer enough," said DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy. "We must radically and quickly ‘change the balance’ in favor of waste reduction, recycling, and reuse over disposal. If you look at the amount of waste we generate and then look at the available places there are for it to go, something has to give. If we dramatically increase our recycling rate, we can avoid the need for additional disposal facilities."

Connecticut currently generates about 3.8 million tons of MSW a year, of which:

  • 30 percent is recycled;
  • 57 percent is burned at six regional facilities (RRFs) that also recover energy;
  • 9 percent is disposed out of state;
  • 4 percent is disposed in-state.

The amended plan offers 75 comprehensive strategies for solid waste management and will serve as the basis for Connecticut’s approach through 2024.

The State Solid Waste Management Plan is available for viewing at www.ct.gov/dep.


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