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State Senator

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Majority Whip

Representing Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison & North Branford

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Contact: Dan Doyle
860-240-8633

December 21, 2015

Kennedy: Excessive Packaging Used to Ship Online Orders is Filling Our Waste Stream and Costing Towns Money

Kennedy to introduce legislation that will cut down on waste and boost recycling

BRANFORD, CT—At the height of the holiday shopping season Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (D-Branford) was joined by Branford’s Waste Management Manager, Dan McGowan, as well as Etta Hanlon, founder of Branford’s Holiday Recycling Program, and Tracy Camassar, owner of Chapman Manufacturing, a Durham manufacturer of tools and parts, to talk about the need to cut down on excessive packaging materials used to ship online purchases.

“We’ve all received packages from online retailers that came in an oversized box, stuffed with packaging materials, and wondered why it is necessary. In many cases it’s not needed and is extremely wasteful,” said Senator Kennedy, Senate Chair of the Environment Committee. “Connecticut recently set a goal to reduce solid waste in our state by 60 percent by 2024. The dramatic increase in internet shopping has made this goal difficult, if not unobtainable. It is my intention to work with my colleagues in the legislature and stakeholders in these businesses to craft and pass legislation that will establish an affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly method of confronting this growing problem.”

Packaging materials comprise the largest category of solid waste in Connecticut, comprising a third of the waste that municipalities are tasked with disposing of. While the environmental costs of packaging are routinely disregarded by manufacturers and shippers, municipalities are forced to pay for this rapidly growing problem. Dan McGowan, who runs Branford’s waste management program, says that it already costs Branford taxpayers $1.5 million every year to pick up and dispose of solid waste. Senator Kennedy argues that this alarming increase in the amount of packaging waste is creating an unmanageable burden for Connecticut’s cities and towns, which may have to increase property taxes in response.

Kennedy plans to introduce legislation in the 2016 legislative session that will boost recycling and cut down on the waste generated by packaging materials. There are several avenues that Kennedy is currently pursuing. One is to require that boxes used to ship purchases be no larger than necessary, or be made of recyclable materials. Another is to establish a labeling system to help customers identify and purchase items shipped in “frustration-free” packaging that is more accessible for consumer and uses fewer packaging materials. Additionally, he will explore working with the RecycleCT Foundation to expand their mission of increasing recycling to cover the issue of consumer packaging.

Kennedy and his colleagues on the General Assembly’s Environment Committee will also consider a stewardship program for companies that are major contributors of packaging waste. Through the stewardship program, the state of Connecticut will work with businesses to ensure that packaging materials are recyclable and/or made of recycled materials. Stewardship programs establish incentives for producers of packaging waste to adopt more sustainable practices. Connecticut has implemented similar stewardship programs and successfully increased the recycling of unwanted paints, mattresses, and electronics.

Chapman Manufacturing of Durham has been in the tool-making business since 1936. Recently they were recognized as a pioneering business for their efforts to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. They have proven that a business can cut packaging waste and still thrive in Connecticut.

“We think purchasing, stocking, and using packing material all to be shipped once and thrown out is wasteful. Shredding our scrap paper, junk mail and re-using air pockets and packing peanuts uses those resources a second time before entering the waste stream and greatly reduces the cost of packing,” said Tracy Camassar, owner, Chapman Manufacturing.

Chapman Manufacturing recently received the GreenCircle Award from DEEP for not purchasing any packaging materials for its many daily shipments. Instead, Chapman uses 100 percent re-used or recycled materials. Office paper, catalogs and old brochures are shredded daily to use as packing. Any non-recycled packing materials such as bubble wrap, AIR plus packing bags and packing peanuts are reused from shipments sent to Chapman or brought in by employees who received the materials in personal packages sent to their homes.

Packaging waste is rapidly becoming a worldwide issue. Fifteen countries in the European Union (EU) require that producers and shippers finance all costs of collecting and recycling consumer packaging. This establishes an incentive to cut down on waste, and takes the financial burden of disposal off of municipalities.

 

Committees

Chair: Environment

Ranking Member: Internship

Member: Public Health; Transportation

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Hartford, CT 06106-1591

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