In search of 'circular' plastic stream, CT weighs minimum recycled content

With Connecticut consumers to pay higher deposits at checkout for many beverages — refundable for those who recycle them — manufacturers could be facing penalties in a few year’s time if they do not use a percentage of recycled material in their containers.

On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law that could result in new rules mandating the inclusion of recycled materials in products sold in Connecticut, with the bill passing through the Connecticut General Assembly without a single “nay” vote.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has 18 months to craft a plan to implement the policy, in coordination with other states and private-sector entities like the Northeast Recycling Council.

California and New Jersey both have laws that take effect this January for minimum recycled content in plastic bottles and other containers. California set its threshold at 15 percent for the amount of recycled content manufacturers must include in bottles they sell. Those failing to do so face a fine of 20 cents for every pound of resin they sell that comes up short of the specification. Bottle makers must also report the materials that go into their bottles annually.

A DEEP spokesperson did not provide any timeline for next steps or a DEEP staff member to comment, but Katie Dykes addressed the problem in March during a hearing of the legislative Environment Committee. Dykes described the current system as a “waste disposal crisis” that she said Connecticut must address now.

“The thing that we can best do to help improve the economics of recycling in the state — and frankly, across the region — is to enhance the markets … for making new products out of recycled materials,” Dykes said in March. “To the extent that there’s a better market that’s valuing those commodities and helping to improve … prices for recycled material, that is what will really make a difference.”

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