Updating of Solid Waste Management Plan
The CT DEP is in the process of selecting a consultant to assist in the development and writing of an updated State Solid Waste Management Plan. The Plan is required by state statute to establish the following hierarchy for managing solid waste: source reduction, recycling, composting, bulky waste recycling, resource recovery, and landfilling. The Plan will include specific strategies for revitalizing Connecticut's waste reduction programs. It is anticipated that the contract, which will run 8 to 12 months, will be awarded within the next couple of months and that a preliminary draft plan will be prepared within five months of the award date.
Hear Today, Recycled Tomorrow
Remember the days when a video cassette recorder was the new thing, a personal computer was something you only used for word processing at your job, and phone booths were everywhere? Seems like only yesterday doesn't it? Lots of people have now moved on to a DVD player, replaced their computer diskettes with CDs, and grocery shop while talking on their cell phone.
The number of electronic devices we now can buy keeps growing and they seem to become obsolete right after the purchase. Technology can make life easier and more fun, but all that outdated equipment and accessories also create enormous amounts of unwanted and toxic trash.
For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that every month approximately 100,000 pounds of CDs become outdated, useless or unwanted and more than 5.5 million boxes of software go to landfills or incinerators. CDs and DVDs are made from mainly plastics and metals, such as aluminum, polycarbonate (a type of plastic made from crude oil and natural gas), lacquer made from acrylic, gold, chemical dyes partially made from petroleum products, and numerous other materials such as water, glass, silver and nickel. When they are manufactured and eventually disposed, they can release chemicals that contribute to global warming and create environmental and health problems. When we "reduce" - like borrowing a DVD from the library instead of buying it, reuse or recycle them, we conserve natural resources and decrease the quantity and toxicity of our trash.
DEP employees took steps in that direction by holding a "Techno Trash" swap and recycling collection for CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, computer disks, audio tapes and jewel cases (the plastic cases that hold CDs). The event, held on Nov. 16 and 17 during lunchtime at DEP headquarters, was organized to celebrate America Recycles Day. Employees swapped things like outgrown Barney videos, an unloved The Carpenters Greatest Hits CD, and many more under appreciated, unopened or "why did I ever buy that?" movies, exercise tapes and music CDs. Someone even took home all of the jewel cases! DEP collected more than 150 pounds of materials in three "Techno Trash Cans".
The three "cans" of unwanted or damaged materials were sent to Green Disk for recycling. Green Disk, which is headquartered in Sammamish, WA, accepts diskettes, CDs, DVDs and jewel cases, video and audio tapes and their cases, inkjet and toner cartridges, cell phones, pagers and PDAs (personal digital assistants like Palm Pilots). Although there is a nominal cost involved to participate in their "Techno Trash" program, Green Disk provides a "Certificate of Destruction" with a bonded guarantee that the intellectual property and all of the materials are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.
Green Disk's primary focus is on reuse, then recycling. They reformat and re-label outdated, but never used disks from software companies and then sell them in environmentally friendly packaging. These disks are thoroughly tested and guaranteed to be virus and error free. They also sell re-writable CDs in jewel cases made from the high quality plastics from recycling collections like the one held at the DEP. Even their packaging is made from recycled paper. So customers can recycle and close the loop by purchasing products with recycled content.
- Some Tips on reducing CD and DVD waste
- Find out if the information you're looking for on disk is available over the Internet. If so, you may not need to buy the disk at all.
- If you do make a purchase, also consider buying the one with the least amount of packaging.
- Prolong the life of your disks by keeping them out of direct sunlight and away from heat and water. To repair minor scratches, rub a mild abrasive (e.g. a non-gel toothpaste) on the non-label side in a circular motion from the center out-or bring the disk to an inexpensive commercial refinisher.
- Buy used CDs and DVDs or borrow them to help reduce the environmental impact associated with manufacturing new products.
- Dispose of unwanted CDs or DVDs only when you have no other choice. Instead, sell them to used CD stores, share or trade them with friends or donate them to schools, libraries, or other organizations.
Say it ain't so. No more Garbage Gazette
That's right. But it's not gone - the Garbage Gazette, the oldest DEP publication (since 1982) has transformed into the "Recycling Roundup" and, is officially being recycled into the P2 View. The Recycling Roundup will continue the work of the Garbage Gazette and cover recycling and other solid waste issues affecting our state. It's a natural fit. Recycling and pollution prevention (P2) aren't stand-alone issues. P2 is a broad topic encompassed by the big picture of sustainable development and climate change and waste and recycling issues are certainly important components of both.
In Connecticut, we have had mandatory recycling since 1991 and yet, after thirteen years there are still many challenges to overcome, some old and some new. Connecticut, like most of the rest of the country, has seen recycling rates level off. We need to get those rates climbing again. Why?
Because recycling and source reduction result in a myriad of environmental benefits such as: energy savings; conservation of natural resources; reduction in pollution emitted to our air and water; water conservation; and reduction in green house gas emissions. Case in point - source reduction and recycling issues are so important that the January 2004 report "Connecticut Climate Change Stakeholders Dialogue: Recommendations to the Governor's Steering Committee" included in its recommendations that the state pursue improving recycling and waste reduction efforts as a way to deal effectively with greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Recycling and source reduction, like P2, help create a healthier world for future generations and ourselves by minimizing further damage and depletion of our natural resources. Recycling is one tangible activity that people can practice daily that illustrates the value of "thinking globally and acting locally."
But it's economic as well - we are running out of in-state solid waste disposal capacity. Unless we decrease the amount of waste requiring disposal, we may have to resort to more costly disposal options (including increased environmental impacts related to greater transportation distances). Any increase is a potential drain on already strained state and municipal budgets.
So welcome Recycling Round-up to the P2 View family. We'll explore potential solutions for dealing with our complex waste issues. We look forward to hearing from you.
Over 70 people, including business owners, community leaders, local and state officials, college students and neighborhood activists, attended a community forum held in November on the Hartford Landfill. The forum was a chance for the community to discuss the facts and issues affecting the upcoming closure of the landfill, a regional facility that accepts waste and ash from 69 Connecticut towns. The Hartford Neighborhood Environmental Partnership (HNEP) co-sponsored the event.
The CT DEP's Office of Pollution Prevention initiated the HNEP in 1995 after receiving a grant to work with low-income Hartford neighborhoods to enhance economic opportunities and quality of life by raising environmental awareness and furthering environmental compliance. Along with DEP and neighborhood organizations, the partnership now includes representatives of city and regional government and non-profits promoting community gardening and advocating for health and environmental justice. The HNEP just recently received an award from the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice for its outstanding efforts to improve Hartford's environment.
Reading, Writing & Recycling
What has 90 thumbs and finds a second life for leftover lunch, old sneakers and cell phones?
It's the "Green Thumbs" club at Southeast Elementary School in Mansfield, Connecticut.
The club was formed four years ago with about a dozen students, several teachers and the town's recycling coordinator -- although students have been involved in the school's efforts to "green up" since 1994. At the end of lunch, all students sort their lunch tray and bag lunch leftovers into three separate barrels - food waste for composting, drink boxes and milk cartons for recycling, and non-recyclables for the trash. After receiving a $10,000 Toyota Tapestry grant in 1997 to purchase a commercial composter for the school, the town's recycling coordinator was able to expand the composting program to include two other schools. The club membership has grown over the years and the students have become environmental leaders at the school.
- "Green Thumbs" is a play on words, not only referring to growing plants (out of the school's finished compost) but also the club's emphasis on caring for the earth. Green Thumbs students participate in fun activities that teach them the various aspects of sustainability and how to become environmental leaders. The school recycles all of the mandatory items (glass and metal containers, cardboard and paper), plus #1, and #2 plastics, sneakers, inkjet and laser cartridges, fluorescent bulbs, computers, household batteries and cell phones. Club members visit classrooms to demonstrate how to correctly use recycling bins. Other Green Thumbs activities include:
- Participating in the composting process - screening it, mixing it into potting soil, starting heirloom seeds in the spring and selling the plants.
- Creating gardens in various locations using the finished compost.
- Learning about toxic vs. non-toxic cleaning products and how to make a non-toxic cleaning solution.
- Holding events at the school to celebrate America Recycles Day (November 15th), such as a book swap and a "waste free" lunch.
- Helping distribute "welcome bags" to college students living in off-campus apartments. The bags contained coupons from local businesses and instructions on how to recycle at their apartment.
Green Thumbs has been recognized for its efforts by the DEP for their environmental initiatives.