A new report from the Governor’s Modernizing Recycling Working Group calls for “dramatic changes” in reducing municipalities’ waste disposal burdens by shifting some of them onto businesses--those that manufacture, sell, and purchase certain materials with potential economic value that can be captured through recycling. 

According to the report, these changes would promote environmentally beneficial infrastructure, and foster economic development and job creation in Connecticut while reducing burdens on municipalities.

Some of the materials the report focuses on include:

  • Construction and demolition;
  • Textiles (including rugs)
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Scrap metals
  • Packaging

But some businesses that manufacture or sell these products wholesale are wary of the government intruding into an already developing free-market system for recovering reusable materials. 

Free-Market Success Story

For example, last year, a proposal that was strongly promoted by the City of Hartford, called for manufacturers and retailers to assume take-back responsibilities for discarded mattresses.

The city claimed that it spends hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in picking up and disposing of mattresses left by the side of the road. A new enterprise in Bridgeport that recycles mattresses said it needed the law to ensure an adequate supply of used mattresses for its recycling operations.

Industry representatives argued, on the other hand, that many businesses that manufacture or sell mattresses already have established programs to reclaim the value of their mattresses--because it makes economic and environmental sense to do so. 

The mattress bill failed, and, less than a year later, the facility in Bridgeport can barely accommodate all the mattresses it’s now receiving at its site. “A great market-place success story–with no need for government mandates,” said one industry expert.

But some who are considering starting a recycling business or have already done so argue that some government measures to ensure a sufficient supply of waste materials is important to their business models.

The mattress bill is expected to return during this legislative session along with possible other measures designed to implement the report’s recommendations.   

For more information about the report or measures at the legislature related to the report, please contact CBIA’s Environmental Policies Council director, Eric Brown at eric.brown@cbia.com.