Bills passed by the state legislature’s Environment Committee come as cities and towns confront a growing garbage problem, Cohen says.
HARTFORD, CT – State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) lauded several bills passed by the legislature’s Environment Committee so far this session that she says will help address Connecticut’s growing crisis of – and the potentially financially crippling problem of – disposing of all of its weekly household garbage.
As Connecticut’s landfills fill up, as its trash to energy plants age and close and as otherwise reusable food waste continues to provide a larger and larger portion of our state’s weekly trash collection, the legislature must provide solutions to save local taxpayers money and protect the environment, Cohen said in a statement.
“This isn’t an issue that is looming in the coming years or decades. This is an issue that is happening right now – as in, today. And this is an issue that the Environment Committee has made some good progress on over the past several weeks,” Senate Chair of the Environment Committee Cohen said.
“Cities and towns are begging for solutions. More than half of all the cities and towns in Connecticut are members of the state’s new Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management. They’re concerned, and rightly so,” she noted.
“I’m happy to tell them that the legislature has worked in a very bipartisan manner this session on some solutions to reduce the amount of materials being tossed into our landfills and incinerators and to find new avenues for food waste,” Cohen said. “That means lower tipping fees for cities and towns, less property tax pressure on homeowners, and less garbage leaching into our soil and water or being burned up into our air.”
According to a media release from Cohen, among the bills passed by the 32-member, bipartisan Environment Committee this session are bills aimed at diverting tires, smoke detectors and gas cylinders from landfills; turning food waste into electrical energy through the use of anaerobic digesting facilities; and adding 50 milliliter liquor “nip” bottles to the state’s existing bottle bill program, as well as increasing bottle redemption values and handling fees in order to increase recycling and reduce pollution.
“Solid waste – the common, household garbage that is put out at the curb once a week — has become a significant problem in Connecticut and across the country. We produce more of it than we can quickly, safely and affordably dispose of,” Sen. Cohen said. “So we’re working on ways to reduce the amount of solid waste that finds its way into garbage trucks and landfills.”
- House Bill 6386 , “AN ACT CONCERNING EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY FOR TIRES, SMOKE DETECTORS AND CERTAIN GAS CYLINDERS,” would divert items such as tires, smoke detectors and gas cylinders from Connecticut’s solid waste stream by requiring the manufacturer of a tire, smoke detector or gas cylinder to accept the item back for recycling – much the way Connecticut already does for leftover latex and oil paint. Passed in 2011, Connecticut’s paint stewardship program saved more than 350,000 gallons of paint from being dumped into state landfills in 2020 alone.
- Senate Bill 930, “AN ACT CONCERNING FOOD WASTE DIVERSION AND ANAEROBIC DIGESTION FACIITIES” and House Bill 6503, “AN ACT CONCERNING THE SITING OF ANAEROBIC DIGESTION FACILITIES ON FARMS.” These bills encourage the siting and permitting of anaerobic digesters. In 2015 – the last time the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection conducted a statewide waste characterization study – food waste from homes and businesses nearly equaled paper waste as the largest percentage of all trash: 22.3% food waste versus 23.1% paper waste. There’s twice as much food waste than plastic or construction debris in our garbage trucks, six times more than metal and nine times more than glass. Food waste is very heavy and absent separation, incredibly costly to haul. Food waste is the fastest-growing segment of Connecticut’s solid waste stream, but it’s also the largest portion of waste that can be recycled. Anerobic digestion facilities can turn food waste to a methane-rich biogas, which can be used to generate heat, create electricity, or fuel vehicles.
- Senate Bill 1037, “AN ACT CONCERNING SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT,” adds the tiny 50 milliliter liquor “nip” bottles that litter our highways and streams to the state’s recyclable bottle bill program, and increases redemption and handling fees for bottle recyclers to encourage more recycling and less tossing of plastic and glass into our landfills and incinerators.
“Saving money for homeowners and protecting our environment go hand-in-hand, and I’m very proud of the bipartisan work that the Environment Committee has accomplished on these issues so far this year,” Cohen said. “Now we have to pass these bills into law to satisfy the resounding and urgent demands we’ve heard from town leaders and their citizens.”