Connecticut would become the first state in the nation to mandate the recycling of mattresses, whose disposal has become an ongoing problem in major cities.
The measure passed by 28 to 8 in the state Senate on Thursday afternoon, coming after bipartisan approval in the state House of Representatives by 117 to 21. Some of the negative votes came from senators who opposed the fee that will be charged on all consumers – even those in areas where mattress disposal is not a major issue.
For drivers heading through Frog Hollow in Hartford or other cities across the state, it is not uncommon to see mattresses out randomly on the sidewalk. State senators were debating the issue early Thursday afternoon on the Senate floor.
Currently, cities and towns pay an estimated $1.3 million per year to dispose of the mattresses, and now those costs would be paid by individual consumers who purchase mattresses.
As such, the recycling bill has widespread support from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Council of Small Towns, among others. Officials from numerous communities, including Hartford, Bridgeport, Hamden, Farmington, Waterbury, and Rocky Hill support the measure to eliminate the eyesore.
The bill provides that the manufacturer of the mattress would charge a fee to the retailer, and the retailer would then charge the customer.
The charge would be an estimated $8 to $12 for both the mattress and the box spring, and that would be subject to change. About 350,000 mattresses are sold each year in Connecticut – meaning about 1,000 per day. Now, 58 cities and towns in Connecticut charge a fee – often around $15 – if a resident brings a mattress to the local transfer station.
\”As this program catches on, there will be higher volume, and the fee will come down,\’\’ said Sen. Edward Meyer, the Democratic co-chairman of the environment committee.
CCM has reported that there could be 10,000 abandoned mattresses on any given day in schoolyards, parks and on sidewalks around the state, said Meyer.
\”There are many towns and cities that assume the cost,\’\’ Meyer said.
Sen. Clark Chapin, a New Milford Republican who serves as the ranking member on the legislature\’s environment committee, said that paint and computer monitors are more easy to dispose of because of their size. Paint should be recycled and is often discarded illegally, he said.
\”Mattresses are more difficult to get rid of because they are bulky waste,\’\’ said Chapin, who represents 15 small towns in Litchfield County.
\”Are we starting down the path that every time we have a bulky item, we\’re going to add a fee?\’\’ asked Sen. Kevin Witkos, a Canton Republican who said he drove past two recliners and other furniture on his way to the state Capitol.
The issue is being discussed currently in Rhode Island and California, among others.
\”We are the first,\’\’ said Meyer, adding that Connecticut\’s bill is viewed as a national model.
\”We\’ll all sleep better tonight, knowing that we passed this legislation,\’\’ said Sen. Gary LeBeau, an East Hartford Democrat.
Sen. Rob Kane, a Republican who represents Watertown, said that mattresses are not an issue in the towns he represents in Litchfield County. He said he did not understand why someone in his district would need to pay a fee when there is not a problem there.
\”I don\’t see it as a problem in my district,\’\’ Kane told his colleagues in the Senate circle. \”Everybody is going to have pay a fee for a few bad apples. … I would argue this is not consumer-friendly. We\’re paying for the ills of the cities because they\’re not able to control this problem on their own.\’\’
Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a Greenwich Republican, said it would be better to increase the fines for the illegal dumping of mattresses, adding, \”I don\’t think I\’ve changed my mattress in 30 years.\’\’
But Sen. Andres Ayala, a Bridgeport Democrat, said, \”It is a serious issue in our city.\’\’
Sen. John Kissel, an Enfield Republican, said that he fears that local residents near the border would drive up Interstate 91 to Massachusetts in order to save $10 or $15 on a mattress. Residents, he said, already drive immediately over the border into Longmeadow, Massachusetts on Route 5 to save 20 to 25 cents for a gallon of gasoline.
\”On balance, at this time, I have to vote with the consumer,\’\’ said Kissel, who opposed the measure. \”We can\’t paint ourselves into a corner to be first in the nation in this, that, and the other thing.\’\’