Recycling & Composting
How to Reduce Waste
One of the most obvious effects we have on our environment is the waste we leave behind. Many of our daily activities result in leaving behind waste products such as packaging, paper products, bottles, food scraps, and more. Producing this packaging, especially in the case of plastics and other petroleum products, is often harmful to the environment on its own, relying on fossil fuels and harsh chemicals. Plastics that are exposed to sunlight or weathered in rivers, lakes, and oceans can break down into microplastics. These microplastics are extremely difficult to filter out of the water and so end up getting eaten and drank in by organisms that live in our oceans.
When most people think of fixing these issues, their first thoughts are recycling and composting programs. While both are powerful resources, they can’t address every type of waste we generate or are able to process the sheer scale of the waste that winds up leaving our homes and businesses. The absolute best tool we have at our disposal to combat household waste is simply making informed choices as a consumer that lead to less waste being produced.
All materials have an environmental ‘footprint’ in that resources and energy were used to create them, and energy was used to transport them. Therefore, it is important to first think about Reducing your use of materials, then to think about Reusing or Repurposing materials, and finally to think about Recycling. Simple steps such as eliminating single-use plastic items and instead reusing materials multiple times before disposal, and choosing products that use less packaging, have very real effects on the world around us. Please take a moment to view the links below for more information on Waste Reduction.
The How, Where, & What of Recycling
Recycling is a well-established strategy for dealing with much of the everyday waste we produce. Because of recent changes in how recycling programs work, it is more important than ever that residents understand what can and cannot be recycled. Sometimes well-intentioned people try to recycle items that are unrecyclable. This drives up the Town’s cost for recycling programs due to contamination. Most recycling programs rely on machines to sort different materials. Contaminants, including plastic bags and items that can get tangled up, will jam the machines, so they should instead be disposed of as trash. Knowing what your local recycling program does and does not accept is the surest way to combat this kind of “wishcycling.”
It's ever more important to recycle correctly. Our Hartford "trash-to-energy" plant is on the brink of failure and may not be soon repaired. Its breakdowns require that CT garbage be trucked out of state and buried in landfills. One way to decrease the waste stream is by "recycling right" and diverting material from the incinerator to potential re-use. Though "single stream" re-cycling has increased the amount we recycle, improperly placed materials can jam recycling machines and drop the efficiency of the process.
A new state website, RecycleCT, provides a host of resources for proper recycling. A website wizard allows you to search any item and suggestions are given for difficult to dispose of items. Brochures are available for download. One key take-away: don't put plastic bags in the blue recycling bins! They not only jam up the machines, they will be thrown into the incinerator stream even if filled with recyclable cans or bottles! Other items to avoid are prescription bottles, loose lips and caps, shredded paper, small scrap metal or spiral wire bindings or hangers.
Shred Day & Electronics Recycling
Each year in October, the CEEC hosts a town-wide event to assist Bloomfield residents with the shredding of confidential documents and recycling of no-longer useful electronics. This year over 4 tons of paper, a full truckload of electronics and thousands of single-use plastic bags from over 300 residents were recycled. Town staff from the Town Manager's office, Planning, the DPW, the Police Department, Social Services, Leisure Services and Senior Services as well as CEEC members and many other very helpful volunteers help make this a very successful day!
Organic waste (food scraps, leaves and yard debris) are a resource not waste. Approximately 50% of typical municipal garbage is compostable and about 21% is food scraps. Incinerators and landfills contribute to pollution and affect health as well as increased cost of transporting waste. The CEEC's goal in this area is to inform citizens through educational programs and opportunities available to reduce such waste. For more information, see: UConn's Master Composter Webpage or DEEP's Composting and Recycling Information.