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DEEP Announces $570,000 in Additional Sustainable Materials Management Grants to Help Municipalities Reduce Waste and Save on Solid Waste Disposal Costs

Bethel, Bethlehem, Middlebury, and Kent Approved to Receive Grants for Pilot Programs; Food Scrap Diversion a Key Prong of Gov. Lamont’s HB 6664 to Address Solid Waste Disposal Crisis

(HARTFORD) — The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced today three additional towns and one expanded pilot program have been approved to receive over $570,000 in grant funds through the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Grant program. Bethel, Bethlehem, Middlebury, and Kent will be joining 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 and 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 we throw 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. Accelerating food scrap diversion is a key element of Gov. Lamont’s strategy to return Connecticut to self-sufficiency in managing its waste disposal, and in his proposed bill, HB 6664.

These new pilot programs will be implementing food scrap collection for residents at their town Transfer Stations and encouraging residents to “cut their trash in half” by trying to increase the amount of food scraps diverted the waste stream. Residents will also be instructed to separate household food scraps and drop off at their local Transfer Station.  

“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,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “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.”

“As a small municipality, our budget is lean and funding a project like this would be a challenge,” said Jean Conlon Speck, First Selectman of Kent. “We’re very grateful to DEEP, Commissioner Dykes, the Governor, and legislators who have worked to make this funding available. We’re excited to have a partner in Jen Heaton-Jones and the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA) to implement the program and could not implement the pilot with her guidance and leadership.”

“I’m thrilled that several of our HRRA member towns - Bethel, Kent, and Newtown - are receiving this funding and will soon be implementing these impactful waste reduction programs in their communities,” said Jennifer Heaton-Jones, Executive Director of the HRRA. “Food scrap diversion and collection is a major opportunity for residents to reduce disposal tonnage and cost that is also better for our environment. These grant programs are an opportunity for municipalities to try these strategies and discover that it’s possible to rethink our disposal habits and reduce cost in the process.”

The SMM Grant Program pilot communities have seen success over the last several months. The Woodbury and Deep River Transfer Station programs are capturing an estimated 35% of the available food scraps from the waste stream. Current SMM Grant pilot program participant Deep River has collected more than 45% of available food scraps from residents at their Transfer Station over the last 12 weeks, diverting this material to be processed at the Quantum Biopower anaerobic digestion facility in Southington, which converts food scraps to renewable energy (biogas) and compost amendment.

Based on the success of the pilots, the SMM Grant Program town officials will consider different options available to continue reducing waste and collecting food scraps on a permanent basis.

Connecticut relies heavily on aging disposal infrastructure through which most solid waste is incinerated to generate energy. The pilot programs are designed to reduce the amount of trash in these communities and reduce reliance on this infrastructure or out of-state-landfills. The pilot projects will help meet Connecticut’s goals to reduce waste and increase reuse, recycling and composting, while also creating stable, predictable, environmentally sound and self-sufficient waste disposal options.

The funding for this program was proposed by Gov. Lamont in his budget and approved by the State Legislature. This is the largest investment that the state has made to date in cost-effective, sustainable alternatives to waste disposal, in order to incentivize municipalities and regional entities to implement programs that will achieve greater system reliability, environmental sustainability, and fiscal predictability.

CT DEEP is administering the SMM Grant Program pursuant to Public Act, Spec. Sess., June 2021, No. 21-2, § 308. for municipal and regional waste diversion pilot programs, consistent with recommendations of the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM), a coalition of over 100 municipalities across the state working on ways to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling.

Details on the pilots announced today:

  • Bethel (est. $42,400) – Transfer station food scrap collection, approx. 1,200 households. 
  • Bethlehem (est. $120,000) – Transfer station food scrap collection, approx. 1,700 households. 
  • Kent (est. $55,400) – Transfer station food scrap collection, approx. 700 households. 
  • Middlebury (est. $115,000) – Transfer station food scrap collection, approx. 1,500 households.
  • Newtown (est. $244,300) – Transfer station food scrap collection with Aerated Static Pile Composting System, approx. 4,000 households.
Total approved grants: $577,100
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