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The Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management, a joint initiative between 74 municipalities and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, has finalized recommendations for local and statewide waste reduction options to address the state’s waste crisis.   

The committee was tasked with finding ways to reduce and manage the amount of in-state waste produced to provide system reliability, environmental sustainability, and fiscal predictability, in a manner that lessens impacts on environmental justice communities that host a disproportionate share of the state’s waste disposal infrastructure. 

Co-chair Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says these forward-looking initiatives will reduce the costs of disposal now borne by taxpayers, improve recycling efficiencies and help protect our environment.

He says these recommendations and action items come at a critical time in Connecticut’s waste management sector, with the MIRA Resource Recovery facility facing potential closure and regional landfill capacity forecasted to decline by 40% by the mid-2020s.  If nothing is done, DEEP says residents and municipal leaders can expect tipping fees to increase at the remaining in-state waste-to-energy facilities, along with rates for out-of-state landfilling.  Landfilling also exposes business and towns to unpredictable cost increases as they compete for transportation and landfill capacity as well as potential long-term liability if a landfill has a release or is otherwise a source of pollution in the future.

CCSMM recommendations include:

Supporting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for packaging and difficult-to-recycle materials such as tires and gas cylinders, which would relieve municipalities’ cost burdens for collecting and managing these products.
Implementing Unit-Based Pricing (UBP), a policy that meters trash similar to that of a utility and reduces waste drastically and immediately upon implementation.  
Supporting collection of food waste and other organic waste by strengthening the commercial organics diversion law, municipality hosted anaerobic digester, establishing community compost sites, and implementing residential food scrap collection programs.
Modernizing the bottle bill.
Requiring that products be made from a certain percentage of recyclables to boost markets for recycling commodities, and lower municipal recycling costs over time.
Banning food serviceware with PFAS from being sold in Connecticut.
Creating and promoting recycling at public spaces and municipal buildings.

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Todd Schnitt
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