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Recycling...It's the Law!


Did you know that recycling is mandatory in Connecticut? Everyone must recycle. That includes residents whether living in a single or multi-family building, every business including non-profits, and all public and private agencies and institutions (e.g. colleges, hospitals, local and state government agencies).  It's the Law!  Visit RecycleCT to learn about the benefits of recycling right.

What Cannot Go In The Trash?

Connecticut has adopted various solid waste management requirements to promote recycling of specific material types.  Some items are mandated to be recycled pursuant to DEEP regulation, state statute, and local ordinance. Examples include bottles, cans, newspaper, cardboard, and Ni-Cd rechargeable batteries.  Some items are banned from disposal, such as grass clippings and specific household electronic devices.  Other items are prevented from entering the waste stream through product stewardship programs (also known as extended producer responsibility or EPR) which require manufacturers of certain items to develop and/or provide collection systems for their products.  Examples of products covered under EPR programs in CT are electronics, paint, mercury thermostats and mattresses.  Finally, some items are recycled through a deposit program such as the “Bottle Bill” nickel deposit on specific types of beverage containers and the deposit program for lead acid (automobile) batteries.
What this all boils down to is a list of items prevented from being thrown-out in the regular trash due to recycling requirements, disposal bans, EPR programs, deposit programs or a combination of these as noted below.  Be aware that many of these items get recycled through more than one waste management system.  Links to the laws and regulations that govern how these items are handled can be found on our Recycling Laws and Regulations web page.

Items Designated (i.e. Mandated) for Recycling
  • Glass & Metal Food & Beverage Containers
  • Plastic Containers (PET or PETE #1)
  • Plastic Containers (HDPE #2)
  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Boxboard
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • White & Colored Office Paper (residences and businesses)
  • Scrap Metal, including appliances
  • Ni-Cd Rechargeable Batteries (from consumer products)
  • Waste Oil (crankcase oil from internal combustion engines)
  • Leaves (must be composted)
  • Lead Acid Battery or Motor Vehicle Batteries
  • Grass Clippings (should be left on the lawn or, if necessary, composted )
  • Commercially Generated Source Separated Organic Materials (Only applies to those businesses compelled to do so per CGS Section 22a-226e.  See Letter to Food Business Managers.  Please view the Commercial Organics Recycling Law webpage for more information.)
Items Banned from Disposal
  • Grass Clippings
  • Household Covered Electronic Devices (televisions, monitors, printers and computers)
  • Lead acid battery or a motor vehicle battery
Items Covered Under a Product Stewardship Program
Items Recycled Through a Deposit Program

Additional Recyclable Items

In addition to the designated recyclables that are mandated, many municipalities encourage additional items to be recycled, such as paper beverage cartons (drink boxes, and milk and juice cartons), #3 through #7 plastic containers, telephone books, textiles, and discarded mail. To find out about those additional items, speak with your municipal recycling contact, or visit your municipal website.

Why Recycle?

Blue Bin and Trash at Curb

By recycling, you will be protecting the environment, and as a result, protecting your health as well.  Recycling:

  • Reduces the amount of waste that must be disposed – which means less waste to incinerate or landfill.
  • Prevents or reduces air and water pollution.
  • Conserves water and precious natural resources – since less raw materials need to be extracted and processed. 
  • Saves energy – In 2011, EPA reported the energy savings from recycling and composting almost 87 million tons of municipal solid waste in the US accounted for roughly 1.1 quadrillion Btu in energy savings - an amount equivalent to the consumption of energy consumed by over 10 million U.S households in a year!
  • Makes us more sustainable because we are borrowing less materials and energy from our children’s future.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

What Does the Law Require My Hauler to Do?

  • Provide a warning notice to customers suspected of violating separation requirements.
  • Not knowingly mix designated recyclables with trash.
  • Offer recycling services that are equal to trash services - i.e. if they offer curbside trash pick-up, they must offer curbside recycling as well. 
  • Assist municipalities to identify customers who are not recycling (creating solid waste loads containing significant amounts of recyclables) that are detected by the receiving resource recovery plant or solid waste facility.
  • Have their garbage loads inspected at solid waste facilities; and if a load contains a significant amount of recyclables, the load may be rejected. This costs your hauler time and money. These costs may be passed on to you, the customer.

More information about hauler requirements and provisions of Public Act 10-87  can be found on our Solid Waste and Recycling Hauler Resources webpage.

Question:  My hauler provides only one collection container for all trash and recyclables, and mixes my recyclables with my trash.  My hauler says they have a permit which allows them to separate out designated recyclables from the garbage.  Is this true?

Answer: Unless your hauler has a split truck (most do not) your trash and recyclables should be picked up separately. Learn more about Separating Recyclables from the Waste Stream.  If you see someone mixing trash and recyclables, call your town hall and ask to speak to your local recycling coordinator.  If they cannot rectify the situation call DEEP at (860) 424-3366 and file a complaint.

Municipalities Take Note:  Per Section 22a-220a (d)(1) of the Connecticut General Statutes: Any collector hauling Solid Waste including recyclables shall register annually [with municipality] and disclose name and address of the collector and owner of the company, whether hauling is for residential or commercial or other solid waste; the types of solid waste hauled; anticipated disposal facilities and end markets used; additional information the municipality requires to ensure the health and safety of its residents.

Multi-Family and Condominium Recycling

Just like any other entity in Connecticut, apartment and condominium complexes are required to recover recyclables.  You, your landlord, or your condo management company/association must separate recyclables from other solid waste and provide for recycling. Sections 22a-241b1(c) and (d) of the CT General Statutes discusses this responsibility for both residential and non-residential properties.

Find more information on how to set up a recycling program at your apartment building or condominium complex on our Recycling in Apartments, Condos and Multi-Family Residences webpage.

Call DEEP at 860-424-3366 to file a complaint if:

  • You see your hauler mixing separated recyclables and garbage in the same truck.
  • Your hauler tells you that recycling is not necessary or they will recycle a mixed load elsewhere.

Technical Assistance

If you need more information, please read through our Frequently Asked Questions web page.  If you require technical assistance or have questions specific to your town's recycling program, please first contact your local recycling coordinator.  They are the most familiar with the recycling requirements for your town.  You may also call the DEEP Recycling Program at 860-424-3366.


Content Last Updated December 2019