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    Friday, January 27, 2023

    The Arc looks for community help expanding recycling program

    A recycling bin from The Arc Eastern Connecticut is seen at Horsepower Cigar Lounge in Montville on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Erica Moser/The Day)
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    Perhaps you have tried the Classic Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies sold by The Arc Eastern Connecticut but are not aware The Arc has other microbusinesses that provide employment to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities ― including the Connecticut Donation Station.

    And the social services organization is looking to expand that enterprise.

    The nonprofit has more than 40 collection locations, including outdoor metal recycling bins and indoor cardboard receptacles.

    CEO Kathleen Stauffer said people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD, collect the bottles and cans, taking them to a facility in Woodstock with four recycling machines.

    Stauffer said employees process an average of 7,000 items a day, “but we are not anywhere close to capacity, and we are trying to grow to capacity.”

    The Arc is looking for more businesses to host the 3-foot-tall, 50-gallon bins. Those who think they can sustain a collection site can contact Jennifer Ricci, director of community enterprise, at jricci@thearcect.org or 860-928-4727 ext. 903.

    Indoor locations include Centreville Bank in Norwich, the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce office, Horsepower Cigar Lounge in Montville, and UCFS offices in New London, Norwich, Griswold and Plainfield.

    Local outdoor locations include Poquonnock Plains Park, Esker Point Beach and St. Edmund’s Retreat on Enders Island.

    “The idea of putting the bins out there is really to create vocational job training opportunities for people with IDD to interact with the public, to learn how to do basic job skills,” Stauffer said.

    While The Arc pays out fees to people redeeming recyclables at the Woodstock location, she said a lot of people just want to a convenient and environmentally constructive way to get rid of their recyclables.

    The workers doing the collecting are generally in a transition program, for people with IDD ages 18 to 21.

    Stauffer explained that in 2019, The Arc New London County merged with The Arc Quinebaug Valley in part because the latter was struggling to makes its microbusinesses ― including recycling ― profitable

    Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill last year expanding the state’s bottle redemption program, meaning more kinds of bottles and cans will be eligible for a 5-cent redemption this Jan. 1 and the redemption will increase to 10 cents the following year.

    e.moser@theday.com

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