The South-Central Regional Council of Governments is working with West Haven and other member municipalities to launch pilot projects under the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Sustainable Materials Management Grant program.
As the capacity for waste disposal in Connecticut has significantly decreased because of the closure of the Municipal Innovation and Recycling Authority’s waste-to-energy facility in Hartford, food waste diversion and unit-based pricing programs are options to reduce the waste stream and to ease the financial burden on municipalities, including West Haven.
“The state has warned us of a looming cost crisis in waste management, and this is the state’s solution to manage this crisis,” Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said.
Public Works Commissioner Tom J. McCarthy added: “The city of West Haven has been working on this issue for three years, and we feel confident that this is the best solution available for the residents. We are asking for cooperation for a nine-month project funded by the state.”
According to SCRCOG, projects will involve implementing unit-based pricing and food waste diversion pilots to provide data on municipal waste disposal cost reduction strategies. Eight of SCRCOG’s 15 municipalities have advanced to phase two of the SMM grant application process.
In order for the municipal pilots to be successful and for SCRCOG to lay a foundation for permanent programs in as many of its communities as possible, SCRCOG proposes to provide support and assistance for the projects.
Six of the eight SCRCOG municipalities that submitted SMM applications have been approved for the grant. In addition to West Haven, the municipalities that will pilot unit-based pricing and food waste diversion programs are Bethany, Woodbridge, Guilford, Madison and Meriden.
The West Haven pilot project will include the curbside co-collection of municipal solid waste and food waste in different colored bags. After being sorted, the bags containing municipal solid waste are hauled to a waste-to-energy facility or out-of-state landfills, while the food waste is hauled to a biodigester or a composting facility.
SCRCOG aims to identify areas of the pilot programs that can lend themselves to regional solutions, including a coordinated program launch, common instructions and messaging, shared sites for sorting of bags, shared hauling routes, and the development of aerated static pile composting sites at convenient locations created by the conversion of existing municipal brush and leaf composting sites in the region.
For detailed information on the West Haven pilot program, see the SCRCOG FAQ at https://scrcog.org/municipal-services/solid-waste/, the West Haven Food Waste Pilot FAQ at https://www.cityofwesthaven.com/DocumentCenter/View/4668/Food-Waste-Pilot-FAQ-PDF, and the West Haven Co-Collection Pilot Program website at https://www.reducethetrash.com/westhaven.