The costs of recycling are continuing to rise for the state’s municipalities, according to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM). The group maintains that while recycling was once a reliable source of income for most towns, the practice is now running in the red.
The CCM provided details of 15 communities that have seen a shift from municipal recycling being a net plus to a net minus.
Those include Bridgeport, whose recycling program is expected to produce more than $129,000 in annual revenue in the current fiscal year to an estimated loss of $394,380 in the next fiscal year; Stamford, which is predicted to go from $95,000 in revenue to a loss of $700,000; Fairfield (plus $50,000 to negative $525,651), Stratford (plus $64,000 to negative $240,000), and Wilton, which had been getting $20 per ton for recycled materials and now will have to pay $65 per ton.
The CCM blamed much of the reversal of fortune on China, which once imported more than $5.6 billion worth of U.S. recycled materials a year, but has recently suspended such activities as it focuses on its domestic recycling program.
The CCM is seeking a number of statewide policy changes to address the situation, which could include a ban or tax on plastic bags and straws, the addition of a deposit to glass and plastic containers, and restricting packaging materials.
The change in China’s recycling focus “will result in significant cost increases for local governments and a potential higher tax bill for local property taxpayers,” CCM Executive Director Joe DeLong said. “This also represents yet another example of emerging costs for towns that gives further testimony about the need for the state to provide other local revenue sources for towns other than the property tax.
“CCM is shedding light on these cost increases as towns prepare their budgets for next fiscal year and the state struggles with the level of state aid coming back to towns and cities beginning July 1,” DeLong said.