Environmental Groups Call on Connecticut Lawmakers to Support Zero Waste Solutions

Pile of disposable plastic containers

Kevin Budris, Just Zero – kbudris@just-zero.org, (617) 905-1302
Jeanine Behr Getz, BYOCT – jeanine@kidsthinkbig.com, (917) 297-4537
Ann Gadwah, Sierra Club Connecticut – ann.gadwah@sierraclub.org, (860) 773-2249

January 24, 2023 – Today, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced new efforts to address Connecticut’s waste crisis. Just Zero, BYOCT, and Sierra Club Connecticut applaud Governor Lamont’s focus on waste. Some of his proposals, particularly with respect to food waste diversion, can help Connecticut reduce and divert significant amounts of waste from incinerators that have threatened residents’ health for decades.

Just Zero, BYOCT, and Sierra Club are committed to helping Connecticut implement Zero Waste solutions that will address this crisis. However, these groups are concerned that Governor Lamont’s proposal will include a flawed extended producer responsibility for packaging program that would increase Connecticut’s packaging waste.

“The cheapest, safest, and most equitable way for Connecticut to address its waste crisis is to dramatically reduce the waste it generates in the first place,” said Kevin Budris, Advocacy Director at Just Zero. “We are concerned that this producer responsibility proposal will have the opposite effect. Previous versions of this bill put the packaging industry in charge, failed to set mandatory packaging reduction targets, and created loopholes for toxic plastic disposal technologies, like so-called chemical recycling.”

Chemical recycling is an umbrella term used to describe toxic, climate-damaging technologies that melt, boil, and burn plastic waste. Industry-run producer responsibility programs that don’t explicitly exclude chemical recycling allow the plastics industry to continue increasing single-use plastic production with no repercussions. These dramatic increases have helped create, and will continue to worsen, Connecticut’s waste crisis.

“We need to address our plastic waste problem by moving away from single-use plastic packaging and towards a circular economy,” said Jeanine Behr Getz, founder of BYOCT. “Continuing to focus on managing single use plastic waste perpetuates the burden on towns and cities.”

Producer responsibility programs, if implemented correctly, can help reduce, reuse, and recycle packaging by holding the packaging industry accountable for its waste. Just Zero, BYOCT, and Sierra Club hope to work with Governor Lamont and Connecticut lawmakers to develop a strong producer responsibility proposal along with real waste reduction solutions.

“Connecticut’s waste crisis is nothing new,” said Ann Gadwah, Advocacy and Outreach Organizer at Sierra Club Connecticut. “Communities near the Hartford and Bridgeport incinerators have endured the brunt of our waste crisis for decades. Let’s make sure we don’t prop up yet another toxic industry as we work together on solutions.”

Just Zero, BYOCT, and Sierra Club Connecticut look forward to working collaboratively to find just, equitable, and durable solutions to Connecticut’s waste crisis.


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