SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A $5 million investment in a Southington program is helping Connecticut cities cut back on trash costs.

“We are facing a waste disposal crisis in the state of Connecticut,” said Katie Dykes, the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Food waste makes up about 22% of the waste stream, according to Chris Holden, the director of Middletown Public Works. Holden said that’s crucial because of how heavy it is.

The food waste is taken to the Quantum BioPower facility to help save money.

The state has given out $5 million for cities and towns to start their own food scrap programs. The investments help pay for start-up costs like bags, buckets and transportation to the Southington site.

That, in turn, is expected to save municipalities money on trash costs since Hartford’s incinerator closed. Otherwise, trash is sent out of state.

“We have to provide an incentive to these communities to do the right thing and divert food waste so our disposal rates are less than that at the trash facilities,” said Brian Paganini with Quantum BioPower.

Food waste from commercial businesses makes up about 70% of all food waste at the facility. Residential waste makes up the other 30%.

Middletown is four months into its yearlong pilot program aimed at separating food waste from the rest of the trash. There are 21 other municipalities participating in the program.

At Quantum BioPower, billions of microscopic bacteria consume the food waste and turn it into methane. That is then used for the fuel to generate electricity.

Paganini said that produces enough for 800 households in the Southington area. The residual materials are then turned into a nutrient-rich compost blend.

“We sell it to a lot of folks that want to grow big tomatoes in the spring and summer,” Paganini said.