If you walk along most roads in Suffield you can’t help but see a nip bottle here, there and pretty much everywhere. Those discarded nips were the catalyst for the development of the Suffield Environmental and Sustainability Task Force.
In October of 2021, the state of Connecticut added a “Nickels for Nips” initiative as part of the State’s Bottle Bill. The program places a five-cent surcharge on every 50 ML container of alcohol sold. The goal of this program was to encourage the proper collection of nip bottles to help towns combat littering. Wholesalers must remit this surcharge for each nip sold back to the town it was sold in during the six-month period. The wholesaler must also file a report with the revenue services and consumer protection departments on the number of nips sold in each municipality during that period.
The first year of the program generated $4.2 million in additional revenue for cities and towns to spend on environmental and litter-removal efforts Some direction was provided to each municipality on how to use the funds but ultimately towns were given discretion as long as it fell within the parameters of “environmental measures to reduce the generation of solid waste.” Between October of 2021 and September of 2022, Suffield received $13,874.09 in surcharges.
With funds to utilize, the Suffield Environmental and Sustainability Task Force was formed in February of this year. The group of appointed volunteers’ mission is to work with town leadership to consider where community activities can promote, or benefit from, environmentally conscious practices, help educate the community on ways in which environmentally sustainable behaviors can be adopted at home and advise on the use of state funds allocated to Suffield for the purpose of reducing solid waste and make budgetary recommendations to the First Selectman for future environmental and sustainability projects.
The first task of the group was to align with Beth and Mel Chafetz’s Community Clean Up Day held on April 29, 2023. The task force helped with planning and organizing and provided funds for signs, trash bags, t-shirts, and a pizza party. The successful event resulted in almost 2,500 pounds of trash removed from roads across Suffield in just four hours.
Next, the group released a survey to town residents to get a measure of interest in composting in various forms. A town wide composting service was ruled out at this time. Instead, the Task Force will focus on education, with an evening discussion devoted to composting, and the possibility of an initiative to subsidize personal compost bins. No date is set at this time, but more information will be posted on the town website as it becomes available.