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Critics are wrong about Connecticut’s recycling reform. Here’s the truth

This year, elected officials, community leaders, and advocates have thoughtfully considered extended producer responsibility legislation to enhance recycling in Connecticut. Known as EPR, the policy has churned a rousing debate around its merits and true impact.   

As the conversation continues, we’re laying out the facts. Now is the time to pass smart, well-designed EPR for Connecticut: 

EPR is a proven solution 

We need system change so recycling can do its job of reducing waste and conserving natural resources. EPR policy is a proven strategy for this change. Our research shows that EPR policy has been successful in raising recycling rates in countries worldwide for decades, driving the collection and recycling of target materials.  

Change can feel threatening 

While system change isn’t comfortable for everyone because it inherently means a change to the  status quo, we cannot let that stand in the way of implementing EPR. Leaving jobs, materials, and money on the table is a missed opportunity. Good policy should harness resources, not enable continued waste and inefficiency. Recent reporting indicates that haulers have not constructively engaged in discussions, simply falling back to just plain “no.” The opposition to smart recycling policy has stymied good-faith efforts to improve a system that desperately needs it. We cannot achieve progress without everyone coming to the table for system change.   

EPR provides environmental and economic benefits 

Well-designed and –implemented EPR policy sets up a well-run recycling system that provides benefits to both residents and the larger value chain. Applying our research in the U.S., well-designed EPR policy can create jobs, improve access and participation in recycling, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen domestic supply chains, and create consistent and cleaner streams of recycling for manufacturing. Holding on to the status quo misses out on the full benefits of recycling. 

EPR supports people, communities, and stakeholders  

EPR policy fundamentally changes the way recycling is financed. Good EPR policy provides a more reliable funding stream, so residents have access to top-of-the-line recycling information, the system has enhanced infrastructure, and there is a steady stream of recycled content for collection and manufacturing. Well-designed EPR brings all stakeholders together on this journey toward system change – no industry would or should be left behind. Connecticut-based companies want the recovered material back in their supply chains. Global brands need the material to meet their sustainability goals. Taxpayers want a system that is consistent, easy, and works well. 

So, instead of kicking the can down the road, let’s recycle it. And let’s do one better, recycle it right. Smart EPR policy brings the value chain together to support a well-designed recycling system that works for residents, companies, haulers, and local recycling programs. 

We hope to see Connecticut pass and enact effective EPR legislation this year, joining the list of leading states pursuing transformative work toward recycling system change.  

Since 2014, The Recycling Partnership has mobilized the people, data, and solutions across the value chain to reduce waste and our impact on the environment while also unlocking economic benefits. A mission-driven NGO, the organization works with communities, companies, and government to advance a circular economy and build a better recycling system.