Zero Waste Initiatives

Break Free From Plastic  Pollution Resolution 

The City of Middletown Common Council voted on March 1, 2021 to support a resolution to support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, which is proposed federal legislation aimed at reducing plastic pollution.   The proposed federal legislation would: 

  • Ban certain single use plastic (foam) products that are not recyclable.   Foam containers and cups are not recyclable, are associated with health concerns, and add to our waste problem.  
  • Put a national ban on single use, plastic, carry out bags and place a fee on other carry out bags.  The City has already  implemented a local ordinance prohibiting single use plastic bags.  
  • The bill also includes a “straws upon request” which saves restaurants money, reduces litter, and reduces waste.  During the pandemic I have noticed several restaurants switching to asking if customers need the utensils, straws, condiments, etc for to go orders.  This is a great trend to see.  
  • Require producers of packaging, containers, and food service products to design, manage and finance waste collection and recycling programs for those items. These are called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs and they would significantly reduce municipal recycling expenses.  In CT we currently have EPR programs for electronics, mattresses, paint and thermostats.  These programs have saved CT towns millions of dollars in avoided disposal costs.  
  • Develop a national Bottle Bill program.  CT does have a state program, although it is in need of modernization.  
  • Establish minimum recycled content requirement for beverage containers and food service products.  This is very important.  We often forget that recycling is not just putting items in a separate cart and having it go away.  We need to increase recycled content requirements so those materials are valuable in the production process.   If we don’t purchase recycled content products, recycling doesn’t work.  
  • Spur massive investment in US domestic recycling and composting infrastructure.
  • Prohibit plastic waste from being shipped overseas to developing countries.

The resolution was initiated by the Middletown Resource Advisory Commission and Middletown Recycling Coordinator.   A memo from the Recycling Coordinator is available here.   

The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is being considered by the 2021 session of Congress.  

City of Middletown’s Zero Waste Initiative

The State Comprehensive Management Strategy sets a goal recycling and/or diverting 60% of the municipal solid waste.  The City of Middletown has been working on many programs to increase its recycling and reduce its garbage. It is critical that the City’s residents, businesses, institutions and government do all we can to reduce and recycle more of our waste.    It is critical for environmental and financial reasons.  The state’s trash to energy facilities are older and in need of updating and repair.    If we continue generating as much waste as we do, the cost will continue to escalate.    

It is important to note that recycling is not the answer.   Recycling is certainly better than just trashing items, but recycling can be costly as well.   In the last few years the cost of recycling has escalated because of the China’s National Sword.  The domestic markets are getting flooded and the cost to recycle is going up.   It is still cheaper than trash, but whereas, Middletown used to get paid for recycling, the City is now paying to recycle single stream material.  It is more important than ever that the material put in recycling bins be clean and acceptable.   But it is even better to actively REDUCE what you are throwing away and recycling.   Using less, is better for the environment and costs less.   

In 2011 The City of Middletown has been chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be one of fifteen municipalities throughout the nation to participate in a Zero Waste Pilot Program, to assist municipalities in creating Zero Waste Programs. The Middletown Resource Recycling Advisory Committee meets monthly to review efforts and move the City forward to Zero Waste (PDF).

The City of Middletown Common Council passed a City Resolution (PDF) in support of Zero Waste on March 4, 2013. The resolution officially makes Middletown a "Zero Waste Community." The City will work towards educating residents and businesses about Zero Waste and developing programs to increase its recycling rate and source reduction rates.

Since then the City has worked on various initiatives with businesses, multifamily complexes, residents and city government to reduce waste and the toxicity of its waste.   Currently the City is a member of Sustainable CT and working on several initiatives to reduce waste throughout the City. 

The City is currently participating on the CT Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management to help come up with solutions to reduce waste statewide.  This initiative which includes both state and municipal leaders will meet September - December 2020 and hopes to present innovative waste management solutions and strategies in January 2021.