HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — For 50 years, 30% of the state’s trash has ended up at MIRA’s renewable energy facility in Hartford. But, after the plant closed last July, Connecticut needs a new place for its waste.
With 2.4 million tons of trash produced each year, the lack of a long-term plan has many town leaders worried. Of Connecticut’s trash, nearly half is shipped outside of the state.
“There is no magic place for your garbage to go,” Rep. Joe Gresko (D-District 121) said.
Different municipalities have their own ideas.
In West Hartford, a material solution center handles the waste. Stonington piloted recycling and food waste separation, Old Saybrook uses blue barrels for food waste and Middletown piloted a program to give each customer two trash bags — one for trash and one for organic food scraps.
The hope is for the pilot measures to reduce the weight of the trash, and therefore save money on “tip fees,” which a tax for getting rid of garbage. The tees have increased by 80% in the last decade.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s team hopes to reduce waste by 40%, starting with organics.
“[The plan is] to get those food scraps from your kitchen, your grocery store, your restaurant to the digesters we have in our communities,” said Katie Dykes, the state’s commissioner of energy and environment.
That can be done by using anaerobic digesters, like the one operating in Southington.
Other ideas include taxing packaging producers, known as EPR, taxing solid waste, and developing new technology to get rid of the trash. Those proposals, however, will all take years.
Two dozen towns remain under a trash agreement at the Hartford site. Leaders said it will take years for them to figure out how to decommission the former coal plant. Who will pay for it, and what will be built, is up for debate.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has his own suggestions for the site.
“Whether it’s commercial or industrial use or a mixed-use development or expanding the riverfront park system it’s an incredible asset for our whole region,” he said.
A public notice will be released for the plan next week.