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CT: Citizen Outreach Effort Builds Support for Zero Waste: Door knocking begins
This summer, Toxics Action Center pounded the pavement, going door to door, and person to person on the street, to mobilize public support for Zero Waste policies in Connecticut—the state that burns more trash per person than any other in the country. From New Haven to Greenwich, we talked with hundreds of everyday people, who agreed that it’s time to make a robust plan to dramatically decrease our reliance on burning and burying our trash. This past legislative session, the Connecticut General Assembly unanimously passed the governor’s recycling bill. The bill sets a goal of diverting 60 percent of “waste” from landfills and incinerators by 2024 through reduction, reuse, recycling and composting, and directs the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to make a plan for the state to hit that goal.
Connecticut’s trash incinerators generate half a million tons of toxic ash every year. We’re quickly running out of landfill space for this incinerator ash and increasingly shipping it out of state. This isn’t the first time Toxics Action Center has successfully organized for better waste management in Connecticut. In 2009, we worked with the citizens group Residents of the Last Green Valley, as well as state and local leaders, to urge the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority to abandon its plan to build an incinerator ash landfill in Franklin. Our efforts prompted state agencies to halt the plan and instead reexamine the way we manage trash in Connecticut.
Even then, five years ago, it was clear that 70 to 90 percent of materials that are thrown away could be recycled or diverted from disposal. Since that time, we have advocated for Connecticut to focus on reduce/reuse/recycle and set a goal of creating zero waste. It is estimated that the commodity value of material burned in incinerators is more than $10 million per year. And, we know that recycling provides 10 times as many jobs as incinerators or landfills. Connecticut has set a goal of keeping 60 percent of trash out of landfills and incinerators—but the state has been stuck at 30 percent for the last decade. In Massachusetts, communities like Nantucket are already keeping more than 90 percent of their trash out of landfills and incinerators, and in Connecticut, towns like Darien and South Windsor are over 50 percent.
We’re continuing to work for Zero Waste, as well as partnering with residents in Hartford living in the shadow of the state’s largest trash incinerator to have the facility retired, cleaned up and redeveloped. It’s a long road ahead, but we’re making great strides moving Connecticut toward Zero Waste.
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