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02/27/2021

DEEP Kicks-off Organics Infrastructure Initiative to Enhance Materials Management Options in Response to State Waste Crisis

 

(Hartford, CT) – Today, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) hosted a virtual kickoff meeting of the Organics Infrastructure Initiative.  This initiative was born out of the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM) and responds to the recommendations of the Working Group on Food Scraps and Organics and the state’s waste crisis.

The 2015 Connecticut Waste Characterization Study showed over 900,000 tons per year of organic material, including over 500,000 tons per year of food waste, entered the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, meaning that about 40% of the material sent to landfills or waste-to-energy plants each year is organic material that could be more sustainably managed if it is donated, composted, or converted to energy at an anaerobic digestion facility.

The State currently has the following organics infrastructure:

  • One operating commercial-scale anaerobic digestion (AD) facility with a capacity of 360 tons per day of organics.
  • Three commercial AD facilities that have been permitted but not constructed.
  • Three commercial composting facilities processing approximately a total of 6,500 tons of food waste per year.
  • A recently constructed on-farm AD in Thompson, CT is in the final stage of obtaining DEEP permits to receive 100 tons per day of food scraps.

 

Organics diversion has the potential to be a positive environmental and economic solution, as the tip fee for food waste and residuals at AD and composting facilities can be lower than MSW disposal, so long as transportation costs can be optimized. Therefore, it is also important to ensure that models for low-cost transportation are available and can be scaled up to provide affordable access to expanded organics infrastructure. 

This initiative will spur action on the CCSMM’s recommendation to, “Support collection of food waste and other organic waste by strengthening the commercial organics diversion law, municipality hosted anaerobic digester, establishing community compost sites, and implementing residential food scrap collection programs.”  Proposed objectives of the initiative include:

  • Engaging with stakeholders on design and implementation of procurement opportunities for infrastructure and organics diversion services to support increased organics processing capability in the state, and to significantly increase accessible, affordable organics diversion from the MSW stream.
  • Facilitating municipal interest in hosting infrastructure.
  • Engaging with stakeholders on opportunities/efforts to improve the transparency, predictability, and efficiency of DEEP permitting for organics infrastructure.
  • Staying informed on legislative proposals that can strengthen organics diversion.

 

The kickoff forum included perspectives from a broad group of stakeholders involved with sustainable materials management including, facility developers and operators, waste haulers, investment and financing experts, and other organics market participants.

At the event, DEEP also provided information about related permitting processes, as well as resources—such as the recently-established Concierge Office—available to assist permit applicants with permitting processes.  DEEP also presented efforts the department is making to streamline permitting for organics infrastructure.

In summarizing today’s meeting, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said, “Scaling up organics infrastructure and diversion programs in Connecticut will help solve the state’s waste disposal crisis, and it will take a collaborative effort of municipalities, haulers, developers, and community leaders to make this happen. DEEP looks forward to being a partner in this important effort.”

 49 of 74 municipalities surveyed expressed interest in hosting organics processing infrastructure. There are currently over 80 municipalities participating in the CCSMM process.

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