Legislature Tackles Waste Management, Emissions Cuts
The legislature’s environmental policy focus this year was primarily on waste management, climate change, and sustainability and resiliency goals.
The Environment Committee began the 2023 session with 245 bills and voted 50 bills to the House and Senate floors with just a fraction of those measures making it through both chambers.
Legislation focused on reducing the amount of waste in the stream, increasing recycling efforts, and increasing source separation.
Many legislators emphasized the need for decreased plastic consumption as a means to reduce the amount of waste and called for reliance on materials that either have a higher post-consumer material percentage or can organically break down.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Three bills were introduced in the committee targeting extended producer responsibility:
- HB 6486: Requires the establishment of a statewide stewardship program to manage certain discarded tires that, among other things, provides free access to a collection system and ensures discarded tires are resold or recycled. The bill, which passed both the House and Senate, requires tire producers, or their designees, to join a stewardship organization that they create or select by Jan. 1, 2025. The stewardship organization must develop a plan to implement the program and submit to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The bill also added a pilot program that requires the Department of Transportation commissioner to do laboratory testing related to a pilot program for using tire-derived asphalt on primary state roadways.
- HB 6609: Requires DEEP to study recycling smoke detectors and submit recommendations regarding an EPR program. The House failed to act on the bill.
- HB 6664: This Lamont administration bill passed both chambers unanimously after being amended at various times throughout the session. The final version of the bill eliminated requirements in the underlying bill for a statewide extended producer responsibility program for packaging, packaging-like products, and paper materials. The bill eliminated the provision for municipalities to provide for food scrap separation and collection by Oct. 1, 2028. The bill narrowed the underlying post-consumer recycled content requirements for plastic beverage containers to containers covered by the state’s bottle bill and beginning Jan. 1, 2025, eliminated the 20-mile radius threshold for subjecting entities to the organic materials recycling law. The bill allows the Green Bank to issue environmental infrastructure bonds to finance any solid waste facility chosen in DEEP’s RFPs from providers of existing or proposed solid waste management services.
Recycling, Waste Reduction
- The House failed to act on HB 6608, which prohibits a full-service restaurant owner or operator from giving a customer a single-use plastic straw or stirrer unless the customer requests one.
- SB 895: Passed both chambers unanimously and makes changes to the state’s beverage container redemption law and allows dealers to sell or offer for sale beverage containers labeled with a five-cent deposit after Jan. 1, 2024, as long as the containers were part of a dealer’s inventory on Dec. 31, 2023 and requires deposit initiators to keep all unclaimed deposits from July 1, 2023, to the end of the calendar year.
- SB 1143 was approved unanimously by the House and Senate and requires approval of revisions to the state’s solid waste management plan and the Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy by the legislature’s Environment Committee, prescribes certain signs concerning reverse vending machine outages and requires the issuance of an RFI relating to the management of the state’s solid waste stream.
Emissions Reduction, Sustainability
The legislature also considered committee bills focused on emissions reductions, measures that will impact the business community, including:
- SB 1147: Increases the notification and participation under the state’s environmental justice statute and provides DEEP and the Connecticut Siting Council the ability to deny certain permits for a new affecting facility and apply conditions to the expansion of an existing facility based on the informational hearing. While CBIA did not support this bill, we worked with stakeholders and the committee leadership to significantly limit the types of affected facilities and what actions would trigger the increased participation by the public. This section applies to new construction of an affected facility.
- The House failed to act on SB 961, which originally required new public school construction, replacement, or extension to be net-zero energy. An amendment made the process voluntary for school districts and required the Connecticut Green Bank to establish the Public Schools Solar Power Systems and Energy Efficiency Projects Financing Program.
- The Senate failed to take up HB 6397, which as amended required DEEP to create a decarbonization roadmap and report to the committee.
CBIA advocated against a series of bills that added unnecessary burdens to the business community including:
- SB 1145: Required the DEEP commissioner to adopt regulations by Jan. 1 2025 with sector-specific greenhouse gas emissions reduction sub targets to meet the state’s aggregate reduction targets for 2030, 2040, and 2050 and allows the commissioner to adopt regulations to reduce direct and indirect emissions to reach those same targets. The Appropriations Committee failed to act on the measure.
- The House did not act on HJ 37, which added an Environmental Rights Amendment to the state constitution.
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