A recent study of Connecticut’s waste found that 41% of what residents throw away in trash is organic material, including food scraps and yard waste. This is waste that can be repurposed or disposed of in ways other than tossing it into a landfill, such as composting, biogas, and animal feed.

In an effort to combat this problem, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is awarding nearly $5 million in grants to help municipalities pilot new sustainable waste programs. In addition to the environmental benefits, waste diversion programs can also help cities and towns cut costs associated with waste removal. Since food scraps are usually among the heaviest waste, removing them from the systems will lower the cost by weight.

“We are excited to support our municipal partners implementing innovative waste diversion practices that can reduce their waste management costs and the environmental impact of waste management in Connecticut and beyond,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes in a statement with the announcement. “The municipalities piloting these programs will lead the state in modernizing our waste management practices, a key to solving the state’s waste disposal crisis.”

There are 15 municipalities and three regional programs receiving grant funding, including: Ansonia, Bethany, Deep River, Guilford, Madison, Meriden, Middletown, Newtown, Seymour, Stonington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, West Haven, Woodbridge, and Woodbury. Regional support for the municipalities running these SMM pilots will be provided by COGs or Regional Waste Authorities, those groups providing support include South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG), Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) and Housatonic Resources Regional Authority (HRRA).

According to DEEP, many of the proposed programs follow one from Meriden, which reportedly diverted over 13 tons of food scraps. In the program, residents were given separate bags for organic waste which were then placed in the same container as their regular trash removal. Those bags were then separated out and diverted to Quantum Biopower to create biogas.

DEEP also says that about 30% of the state’s waste needs to be shipped to out-of-state landfills following the closure of the Hartford Resource Recovery Facility. These programs, they say, could help cut down on those costs as well.

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An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment...

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