The 2021 legislative session focused on a series of emerging environmental issues, including recycling, waste management, and PFAS.
The legislature's Environment Committee sought to address the rising cost of hauling and handing waste with a series of bills, including updating the state's bottle redemption statutes.
SB 1037 passed the state House on a 105-42 vote June 3, a day after the Senate approved it 33-1. The bill:
- Increases the bottle deposit from five cents to 10 cents beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
- Expands the types of beverage containers to be included beverage containers for hard cider, plant water or plant infused drinks, juice, tea, coffee, kombucha, and sports or energy drinks.
- Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, creates a five cent surcharge on alcoholic containers of 50mL or less (nips) which will then be remitted to the municipality to cover the cost of environmental efforts
- Increases the handling fee based on the type of container as well as incrementally reduces the amount of unclaimed funds deposited to the General Fund to 45% by fiscal 2026, and allows distributors to keep the remainder.
- Generally requires certain retailers, beginning Oct. 1, 2021, to install and maintain at least two reverse vending machines at their place of business.
The legislature approved additional bills related to recycling and waste management that now await the governor’s signature, including:
- SB 928: Requires that no later than Dec. 1, 2022, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection commissioner, in consultation with retailers, manufacturers, recycling businesses in the state and regional organizations such as the Northeast Recycling Council, submit to the governor and the Environment Committee, recommendations for recycled content requirements for products sold in the state and for multistate coordination in the development of such recycled content standards.
- HB 6496: Allows DEEP to establish a pilot program to beneficially use as fill certain reclaimed materials generated in Connecticut that may have very minor amounts of solid waste. Under the bill, the commissioner may authorize four projects using these materials, subject to certain conditions, including that there is no harm or threat to human health, safety, or the environment.
- HB 6503: Sets requirements for organic source separation and siting of anaerobic digestion facilities in order to increase the state’s waste management infrastructure.This bill makes changes to siting and permitting exemption for on-farm anaerobic digestion facilities as well as broadens the law for certain organic material generators to organic source separate materials. DEEP is required to establish a voluntary pilot program for municipalities looking to separate source-separated organic materials and the commissioner is reauthorized to adopt regulations on specifications for compost from source-separated organic materials and mixed municipal solid waste.
A top priority of DEEP was addressing the increasing threat of climate change, with the legislature adopting the following measure:
- HB 6441: Allows municipalities to create their own stormwater authorities. The bill restricts the fees for farm, forest, or open space land, or property owned by state or local governments and their agencies, to impervious surfaces that discharge to a municipal separate storm sewer system and requires a partial fee reduction for property owners who use certain stormwater best management practices. The bill broadens the authority of municipal flood and erosion control boards to include flood prevention and climate resilience and allows municipalities to enter into agreements to form joint boards. It also expands the Connecticut Green Bank’s duties to include developing separate programs to finance and otherwise support environmental infrastructure and establishes an Environmental Infrastructure Fund within the bank.
The committee addressed PFAS—perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS have numerous industrial applications have been widely used in consumer products since the 1940s.
SB 837, which prohibits the use of class B firefighting foam that contains an intentionally added PFAS in any amount for training or testing purposes with exceptions, passed both the Senate and House.
The bill was amended to also include a ban on the use of intentionally introduced PFAS in food packaging by Dec. 31, 2023.
Any new packaging must be approved by DEEP through its certification process.
While CBIA acknowledges the risk to human health and the environment, the legislature must dive deeper into the science behind PFAS, given that all PFAS do not pose the same risk to human health and the environment and are integral components to many production processes.
The following bills did not gain approval from both chambers:
- SB 884: The Transportation Climate Initiative allowed DEEP to create a cap and trade program on transportation fossil fuels. While this bill did not make it out of the regular legislative session, the House Speaker has indicated that it may be included in the budget implementer in special session.
- SB 931: Requires the DEEP commissioner to examine the impacts of adopting California's medium and heavy duty vehicle standards in Connecticut. Should the commissioner determine it would be beneficial to meeting the state’s goals, the commissioner may promulgate and implement regulations provided at least five other states, including one in the Northeast, have done so.
CBIA applauds the committee's leadership for not acting on HB 5751, which would make the construction of solar facilities in Connecticut prohibitively more burdensome at a time the state is looking to increase renewable energy sources.