Wednesday, December 3, 2008

CRRA on the air

This week's edition of "Face Connecticut," which airs Sunday at 6 a.m. on WTIC-AM and WTIC-FM, will feature a conversation about single-stream recycling and the closing of the Hartford landfill.

Speaking of single-stream recycling, our conversion to next-generation recycling is off to a great start. Already we're seeing double-digit-percent increases in recycling tonnages from towns such as Avon, Cromwell, Farmington, Newington and Vernon.

The more tons we recycle, the fewer tons of trash we're making. For towns that recycle with CRRA, it's simple math: trash costs upwards of $98.50 per ton to dispose of; recycling costs nothing or, in the case of our Mid-Connecticut Project recycling towns, earns $10 per ton for the town budget.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fans wanted!

The Garbage Museum has had visitors from every state in the union and countries around the world. Now everyone can connect to the Garbage Museum through its own Facebook page.

The museum’s Facebook page includes basic information about the museum and photographs of what visitors will find there. In the future, we’ll add pictures from special events and news about the museum.

Last year, a record 31,174 people took part in educational programs offered by the Garbage Museum, and we’re looking to break that record again this year. If you’ve never been there, plan a visit to the Garbage Museum now. And we hope everyone will check out its Facebook page and become a fan of the Garbage Museum.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Facility fire handled safely, plant running normally

As was reported in the media yesterday, there was a minor fire at CRRA’s Mid-Connecticut Project trash-to-energy plant in Hartford.

Here is a full report on the incident:

At about 4:15 a.m. on July 30 a fire broke out in the scrubber atomizer housing associated with Boiler 13. The boiler is one of three located in the plant’s power-generation building (the other building is the waste processing facility, where trash is turned into the fuel used to generate electricity). Each boiler is serviced by a scrubber which cleans pollutants from the boiler’s emissions before they go to the smoke stack. As a result of our control systems, emissions from all of our trash-to-energy plants consistently are cleaner than state air-quality standards require.

The scrubber atomizer is used to spray a lime slurry into the flue gas stream to neutralize the acid gases generated during the trash-to-energy process. Wednesday’s fire occurred in a housing above the scrubber unit. The fire did not occur within the pollution control treatment train and did not enter the flue gas stream or the smoke stack.

Employees of Covanta Energy, which operates the plant for CRRA, called the Hartford Fire Department because of the smoke caused by the smoldering fire. The fire was out within two ours, and firefighters left the site at about 10:45 a.m. Covanta's safety procedures worked perfectly, no employees were injured and there was no need to evacuate the building.

The fire was caused by lubricating oil that had leaked into insulation in the housing above the scrubber atomizer unit. The atomizer has associated with it an ancillary piece of equipment – a gearbox – that operates the atomizer. The gearbox is located in a plenum above the scrubber unit. The gearbox is lubricated with oil, some of which leaked from the gearbox and migrated into the insulation. The oil eventually ignited as surfaces in the housing directly above the scrubber atomizer unit reach temperatures of 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

This incident did not interrupt facility operations. The trash kept moving, and the other two boilers continued to generate electricity. Boiler 13 was returned to service at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, meaning it was out of service for less than 18 hours.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Does your school recycle?

Meet CRRABlog’s friend Marion.

She stopped by the other day to show us something interesting. She had pulled together all the work her nine-year-old third-grader had brought home from school this past year. Before she recycled it, she put the pile on a scale, and it weighed 17 pounds!

This got both of us thinking: how many schools have recycling programs? How many schools have recycling bins in their classrooms and cafeterias? How many of those bins are actually used? Using 17 pounds per pupil, a K-6 elementary school with 20 children in each class and three classes of each grade should be recycling three and a half tons of paper each year!

Does your school have a recycling program? We’d like to hear if it does – or doesn’t! And if the answer is “no,” maybe CRRA can help. Our education staff is ready to work with schools to help kick-start their recycling programs. Contact the Garbage Museum in Stratford or the Trash Museum in Hartford to find out more.

Monday, July 7, 2008

From across the pond

Came across an interesting story in The Sun, a London tabloid.

The headline: 'Green rage' is hitting Brits

Here's a sampling: A survey of 2,046 adults across the UK revealed people are so environmentally-conscious that one in three has been put off a friend, partner or colleague due to poor eco habits.

How long do you think it'll be until stories like this start popping up in the United States?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Closing the Hartford landfill

These aerial photographs of the Hartford landfill offer a bird’s-eye view of closure activities there. Above, seven acres of the Hartford landfill ash area are seen at lower right. The black area is the plastic geomembrane, the orange area is drainage geocomposite, the tan area is drainage sand, the white stripe herringbone pattern is drainage pipe and the reddish color is cover soil. Below, 10 acres of the main landform are also being closed as seen lower right. The tan area on top of the black plastic is drainage sand and the white stripes are drainage pipes.

CRRA has begun closing the Hartford landfill.

Taking advantage of the fact that most of the landfill has already been filled to capacity with ash from the Mid-Connecticut Project trash-to-energy plant and stuff that can't be turned into electricity, two capping projects are under way. In fact, by next June CRRA expects to have capped 52 of the landfill's 96 acres.

In 2007, CRRA contracted with ET&L Corporation of Stow, Mass., to close the western half (approximately seven acres) of the 16-acre lined ash area. Plastic geomembrane installation is complete in the area and soil deployment is ongoing. The project is expected to reach substantial completion by August.

Also in 2007, CRRA contracted with R. Bates & Sons, Inc., of Clinton, Mass., to close approximately 45 acres (the south and west sides) of the 80-acre main landform and build a new access road on the landfill.

Plastic geomembrane installation is complete over approximately 11 acres in the southeast corner of the site. The contractor has begun deploying cover soils above the membrane and will soon begin placing and compacting approximately 44,000 cubic yards of soil necessary for the new access road. Once the new road is built, the contractor will begin capping the west side (the side facing Route 91) of the landfill.

Capping of all 45 acres is expected to be substantially complete by June 2009.

Closure of these 52 acres will require the importation of approximately 210,000 cubic yards of soil material. Closure of the remaining 44 acres of the landfill is scheduled to occur in 2009 and 2010.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Shameless plug dept.

Paul Nonnenmacher, our Director of Public Affairs, recently spoke to the Goshen Library Directors about recycling, including CRRA's new single-stream recycling initiative.

Lynn Steinmayer, Director of the Goshen Public Library, summed up the presentation on her blog.

CRRA is eager to keep people informed about recycling, trash disposal and other important environmental issues. If your city or town -- or, for that matter, your school, civic organization or service club -- would like a presentation, please call Paul Nonnenmacher at (860) 757-7700.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Garbage Museum on radio

Living on Earth, a nationally syndicated radio program that airs on WNPR-FM and about 300 other radio stations across the country, did a great feature on the Garbage Museum. The story takes you onto the tip floor of the adjacent recycling processing center and meets people as they checked out Trash-o-saurus and the museum's other exhibits.

You can hear the story by clicking on this link.

By the way, the story references a birthday party we had for Trash-o-saurus on May 10. Our museum is now home to a one-ton teenager.

Friday, April 18, 2008

In case you're planning ahead for 2009 . . .

Earth Day is being celebrated all over Connecticut and around the country on April 22. Schools and environmental groups are preparing events to draw attention to improvements made in our environment and, more importantly, what all of us can do to keep that momentum going. More recently, businesses have been holding Earth Day celebrations for their employees.

One easy thing that everyone can do to help the environment is to recycle. And because CRRA is the state's leader in recycling education, we provide exhibits and educational programs for Earth Day events.

Unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks we've had to turn down many invitations to participate in events on Tuesday. We want to serve as many people as we can, and we offer these outreach programs year-round -- not just on Earth Day -- so if your school or business would like us to come to you with a fun, educational program on how we can all take better care of our Earth, please call us at (860) 757-7700 or e-mail crrainfo[at] and put "Outreach" in the subject line.

Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CRRA bringing the future of recycling to Connecticut

CRRA is working on two fronts to bring the future of recycling to Connecticut.

Hartford pilot program

CRRA has joined forces with the City of Hartford and the National Recycling Partnership in an effort to help increase recycling participation and tonnages.

A pilot program funded by the National Recycling Partnership -– a coalition of grocery, food and beverage producers and retailers under the direction of the National Recycling Coalition -– will introduce single-stream recycling to about 5,000 households throughout the city. Unlike the familiar curbside recycling system, in which paper and cardboard are separated from bottles, cans and other containers, single-stream recycling means that a resident can put all his recyclables into the same barrel, making it easier for people to recycle. And because the Hartford system will use 64-gallon barrels, rather than the 14-gallon bins currently in use, people will be able to recycle more material.

“We value our relationships with our host communities, so we were delighted to be part of this effort to help Hartford improve its recycling,” said Thomas D. Kirk, CRRA president. “In many other cities, single-stream has dramatically improved recycling rates. We believe this is the future of recycling.”

CRRA’s Mid-Connecticut Project provides disposal of recyclables to Hartford and 69 other communities at its Hartford recycling facility, but because single-stream recyclables require different sorting and processing systems than the current dual-stream system, recyclables collected from homes participating in the pilot program will be delivered to a single-stream facility in Auburn, Mass.

CRRA provides its recycling services at no charge thanks to revenues from selling recyclables to companies who turn them into new products. To bring the pilot program to fruition, CRRA, the National Recycling Partnership and FCR, Inc., which operates CRRA’s recycling facility, reached an agreement which guaranteed CRRA would not lose any revenue during the program’s 12-month duration.

Single-stream for all Mid-Conn towns

Meanwhile, CRRA is moving toward retrofitting its Mid-Connecticut Project recycling center to accept single-stream recycling deliveries from all 70 Mid-Conn towns.

Earlier this month, the Policies & Procurement Committee of the CRRA board approved spending $3 million to retrofit the facility. The measure must still be approved by the full board at its meeting on April 24.

For more than a year, towns and private haulers from all over the state have been asking CRRA to switch to single-stream recycling. Haulers like it because they can automate their collections, meaning fewer worker injuries, lower worker's compensation costs and more efficient collections, while towns like it because they believe -- as does CRRA -- that single-stream will reduce the amount of trash they pay to dispose of while increasing (at least for Mid-Connecticut Project towns) the $10-per-ton rebate they receive for bringing their recyclables to CRRA.

We'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 14, 2008

News and notes

We've always thought the Garbage Museum in Stratford was a pretty cool place. Now the Boston Globe says so, too! In Sunday's Globe there was a huge spread, taking up most of two pages, about the museum. You can see an on-line photo gallery here, and read the story here.

Have you been to the Garbage Museum? What did you think?

By the way, we'll be talking trash and recycling Wednesday morning on Hot 93.7! Make sure to tune in at about 7:15 a.m. and check us out with DJ Buck, Nancy B and Marv-Lo.

Monday, March 17, 2008

CRRA Annual Meeting

CRRA recently held its fifth Annual Meeting for participating cities and towns.

CT-N recorded the meeting for broadcast. You can watch it on CT-N's Web site by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Little things really can mean a lot

This item has been on our "take a closer look" list for a while, and if you missed it, we think it's something you should think about, too.

Joann Klimkiewicz of the Hartford Courant came up with a great story last month about how making one small change in the way we do things can add up to real savings and real environmental benefits. Here's what they call in the newspaper business the "nut grafs":

"And so was born, an Internet movement beseeching paper printers everywhere to whittle their default margin settings to .75 inches.

"Sounds insignificant. But the Green Destiny Council at Pennsylvania State University recently determined that if they could get page margins reduced to .75 inches campus-wide, it would amount to a savings of more than 45,000 reams of paper a year, and more than $120,000. Using that margin setting, the report said, could render a standard 100-page document to just 81 pages.

"Applying those settings to one ton of paper would save 19 reams, or 1.14 trees, according to Krinsky's calculations off the council's study. With about 5.4 million tons of office paper consumed annually, the new margin settings, according to Krinsky, could save about 6.15 million trees."

Most of us use Microsoft Word to write letters, reports and memos, and changing margins is easy to do. Just click on "File", then "Page Setup", then "Margins" and change the margins to .75 inches.

One of the most common questions we get at CRRA is how to get offices and businesses to recycle more. Many times, the answer involves getting a landlord or property manager to pay his trash hauler for a separate recycling pickup, which costs more money. But this is something everyone can do to conserve natural resources.

Does your office or school recycle? If not, have you tried to start a recycling program? Tell us about it!

And if you'd like to know more, check our post from Dec. 7, 2007, about educational programs for businesses.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


That stands for "bring your own bag," which apparently more people are doing when they go shopping.

Today there were a couple of interesting stories in the newspapers predicting the demise of the plastic shopping bag.

The Washington Post ran a story headlined “Plastic Bags, Headed for a Meltdown” and the Hartford Courant had a piece headlined “Plastic Sacked”.

Both stories indicated that people are moving away from plastic bags and toward reusable bags made of cloth or recycled plastic, which many see as good news, because those plastic bags are made from crude oil.

Connecticut residents frequently ask whether those plastic bags are recyclable. While many stores will take back bags for recycling, towns served by our Bridgeport Project
and Mid-Connecticut Project mustn’t leave those bags in their curbside recycling bins. The reason is that the bags get tangled in the machinery our recycling centers use to sort and bale commodities before they’re shipped to processors to be turned into new products.

If you do get those plastic bags, they can be re-used. For example, at our Garbage Museum and Trash Museum our educators teach kids how to use them to in craft projects. The bags also come in handy for other, less attractive tasks. For example, we’ve met people who use them for cleaning up after their pets. You can also use them for trash disposal.

Now, from time to time you may hear concerns that these bags last forever in a landfill. In Connecticut, where trash goes to waste-to-energy plants, that doesn’t happen. And while open burning of these bags may release dangerous substances, the emissions control systems at our trash-to-energy plants remove those substances before they can get into the atmosphere. Check our emissions testing results and see for yourself.

By the way, paper bags are ideal for recycling newspapers, junk mail, catalogs, magazines, boxboard and other types of recyclable paper and cardboard. Just ask Phillup D. Bag!

Have you tried the new reusable shopping bags? What do you think? We’d like to know. Just post a comment here and tell us!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More praise for our education staff

Joan writes:

We visited the CRRA Garbage Museum on Wednesday, January 2nd. We had about 55 children and adults attend. All of the children are in kindergarten, and many of them have a variety of special needs. The staff at the museum was ready and waiting for us when we arrived. My group of six children, who all have low attention levels, in addition to the already low attention level of a typical five year old!, had the most wonderful time. Our guide and teacher, Robin, was able to read the attention levels of my class wonderfully! She knew when she had their interest and could continue, and when it was time to move on! My class especially loved watching the payloader go back and forth under the "bridge" we were standing on and watching the activity below in the recycling area. They also enjoyed seeing the worms in the compost pile and the movie at the end.

In speaking with the other teachers and students who attended, we all agreed that it was a trip worthwhile, educational, and a "must do again" next year! One of the classes even created their own "Trash-a-saurus" on the bulletin board outside of their class!

Thanks for a wonderful and fun-learning morning!

By the way, we usually don't like to scoop ourselves, but in the next few days we'll be announcing that for the second consecutive year, participation in our educational programs set a new record, jumping more than 7 percent to over 53,000. Now we're looking for a "three-peat" in 2008!

Friday, January 11, 2008

“Non nella mia iarda posteriore.”

That’s Italian for “not in my back yard.”

You may have noticed stories about a trash crisis in Naples, Italy, where garbage has been piling up on the streets because there was no place to dispose of it. The Associated Press reported on Jan. 6:

“Naples and other parts of the southern Campagna region have been plagued by a series of garbage crises for more than a decade. Dumps fill up and local communities block efforts to build new ones or create temporary storage sites . . . angry residents in the Pianura neighborhood blocked a street to protest the reopening of a long-closed dump.”

And on Jan. 8, the AP reported:

“Residents are updet by the uncollected trash but have blocked plans to create new dumps or reopen old sites, claiming health risks.”

Evidently, Italy has the same problem Connecticut has: everyone makes trash but nobody wants to give it a final resting place. Here in Connecticut, there hasn’t been any new disposal facility built in 10 years, even though we continue to produce more and more garbage.

As recently as 1997, Connecticut was bringing in trash from other states to fill its six waste-to-energy plants, but today we have to send more than 400,000 tons a year out of state because our plants have no more capacity.

The Italian government is faced with the same challenge, and Italian leaders appear to be ready to take the same steps Connecticut needs to take. Here’s more from the Jan. 8 AP dispatch:

“[Premier Romano] Prodi announced emergency and long-term measures to cope with the crisis, saying the objective of the strategy was to ‘make Italy completely self-sufficient in terms of garbage disposal, avoiding exportation.’ He said the area would get three new incinerators . . . Environment Minister Antonio Pecoraro Scanio has indicated that recycling and building technologically advanced incinerators are the only ways to help escape the mob’s hold on Naples’ garbage.”

As the Italians are now advocating, Connecticut has long used a system of recycling combined with trash-to-energy plants using state-of-the-art environmental controls (check the results of our emissions tests here) to dispose of its waste. Our system reduces by 90 percent the volume of material that must be landfilled and, despite the claims of some so-called “environmentalists” based on junk science and scare tactics, our system is the most environmentally-friendly cost-effective means of managing our trash.

You can get the facts about the trash-to-energy system on the CRRA Web site. Our Web site has lots of other information about trash, recycling and how we protect the environment.