CT: Aiming for Zero Waste:
Increasing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Across the state, residents are seeing the upside of nothing – nothing wasted, that is.

Connecticut has a serious waste problem, burning more trash than any other state. However, we know that much of the stuff we burn can be diverted from these trash incinerators, and reclaimed and repurposed instead of going up in smoke.

On average, Connecticut burns almost 1,200 lbs of waste per person every year, which has serious implications for our health. Incinerators release a host of toxins into the air like mercury, lead and dioxin, for which there are no safe levels known to man.

After the burning, communities are left with toxic ash, which can pose a serious threat to drinking water supplies. A recent proposal by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority to cite an ash landfill near a crucial drinking water aquifer is a perfect example. Toxics Action Center worked side-by-side with local residents like Susan Allen, and leaders from across Connecticut to stop this reckless plan. But to make a real difference for the long term we have to stop the ash at the source.

Polluting incinerators are not the way forward. They compete directly with efforts to increase the state’s below-average recycling rates. Yet, the incinerator industry is insistently attempting to market incinerators as a green solution, even lobbying to have them receive green tax credits! Do we really want to subsidize facilities that harm our health and environment?

Residents across Connecticut are speaking up with a resounding “no!” They are envisioning a healthier, more sustainable future of Zero Waste, where valuable materials that can be re-used and recycled are not burned to toxic ash and smoke. Zero Waste is bold yet practical re-envisioning of the way that we produce, use, and dispose of goods and materials. Many communities across the country are already achieving recycling rates of 70-80%. Moreover, these initiatives create more jobs and save taxpayers money.

Groups like the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ) are working on the ground to make this dream a reality. They have opposed toxic landfills, pushed the industry to adopt healthier standards, and encouraged state leaders to invest in a healthier future. Toxics Action Center has worked side-by-side with CCEJ, helping them plan winning strategies and effective actions. In the next year, we look forward to working with CCEJ and other community groups across the state that want to make their communities healthier, more sustainable, and more economical by pushing for Zero Waste in their own backyards and beyond.