August 18, 2005
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer
The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, the state agency
that collects, burns and disposes of trash for 70 towns, is about
to make a breakthrough in recycling.
Officials Wednesday announced plans for a new $6 million recycling center,
a state-of-the-art facility that can handle a far broader mix of items.
The novelty is this: After years of breaking even - or losing money
- on recycling, CRRA will soon be able to sell its recycled products at
a profit. Officials said Wednesday that the volume and variety of recyclables
to be handled at the new plant would generate at least $2.7 million a year
in new revenue.
Also new, stressed agency President Thomas Kirk: CRRA can finally recycle
junk mail, catalogs and magazines. It doesn't now - even if conscientious
residents separate them in their recycling bins.
"It's a great, momentous day in Connecticut's recycling history," said
C.J. May, president of the Connecticut Recyclers Coalition.
The new recycling center, which will be an expansion of the container recycling
center the agency runs on Murphy Road in Hartford, will be paid for entirely
by FCR Inc., a private company that manages the container plant. FCR Inc.,
a subsidiary of Casella Waste Systems Inc., was one of three companies that
responded to a public bid.
As part of its contract with CRRA, FCR promised to share the revenue from
selling recycled goods, guaranteeing at least $2.7 million annually.
CRRA officials said taxpayers don't have to pay for the new facility, but
will reap its benefits. The more that gets recycled, the less trash they
will have to pay to dispose of at the landfill.
"Recycling saves us money," Kirk said. "It costs $70 a ton
to deal with solid waste." He was quoting CRRA's prevailing tipping
fee. the amount towns pay to dispose of trash.
The new facility, expected to be built within two years, would be able to
recycle up to 160,000 tons a year, more than double what CRRA currently recycles
from its 70 member towns.
The only challenge in reaching that full capacity, Kirk said, is getting
residents to remember all the things that can be recycled rather than trashed
- an effort that will require a widespread education campaign by CRRA. That
began Wednesday when, with television cameras rolling at a press conference,
CRRA Chairman Michael Pace urged the public to sort its trash in search of
CRRA's two recycling plants are limited in what they can accept for reuse.
They can recycle aluminum, plastic and glass containers and steel cans. A
second plant, also located in Hartford's South Meadows, recycles newspaper
and corrugated cardboard.
The new plant will merge those two functions under one roof, plus add machinery
that would enable it to recycle items such as cereal boxes, shoe boxes, aerosol
cans and oversized glass and steel containers.
By this October, though, the agency's; recycling equipment will be able
to include magazines, catalogs and junk mail envelopes.
"When you start sorting out all those catalogs and magazines you get
around the holidays that's substantial savings," said Paul Nonnenmacher,
an agency spokesman.
Officials from the waste companies say that upgrading a recycling facility
couldn't come at a better time. China's rapidly expanding economy for example
has driven up the prices for recycled commodities in world markets, said
James Bohlig, president and COO of Casella Waste Systems.
That means that not only is there a market for recycled aluminum, paper
and metal, but the price those commodities can sell for is high.
For CRRA, the timing works too. The agency will be encouraging recycling
and reuse just as the Hartford landfill that it relies on is about to run
out of space.
"Encouraging recycling minimizes the need for [landfill] capacity" Kirk
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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