The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced this week that three towns and one expanded pilot program will receive more than $570,000 in grant funds through the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Grant program. Bethel, Bethlehem, Middlebury, and Kent will join 15 other municipalities, including Newtown, to implement innovative pilot programs to collect residential food scraps and reduce trash.
With the July 2022 closure of the Materials Innovation & Recycling Authority (MIRA) waste-to-energy facility, the state has a shortfall in disposal capacity, with an estimated 40% of Connecticut’s waste being shipped out of state for disposal, mostly to landfills. Twenty-two percent of what the public throws away are heavy food scraps that, when diverted from the waste stream, help to reduce the costs of disposal as municipalities pay by weight. Food scraps can be recycled and converted for other uses, such as compost, energy, and animal feed.
“Food scrap diversion is a simple and proven-effective method of reducing the amount of solid waste that ends up being shipped out of state and often ends up in landfills,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “These SMM pilot programs provide municipalities with the tools to explore options that can help them reduce their waste disposal costs and insulate their residents from steadily rising tip fees.”
Accelerating food scrap diversion is a key element of Governor Ned Lamont’s strategy to return Connecticut to self-sufficiency in managing its waste disposal, and in his proposed bill, HB 6664.