A coalition of 74 cities and towns met this week to discuss the future of the state’s trash. The discussions come as the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority announced it will close its Hartford trash-to-energy plant by July 2022. That closure has some municipal leaders asking a big question about our garbage: Should residents pay for each bag they throw out?
When the Hartford plant stops burning trash next year, a key location responsible for annually incinerating hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage will instead ship massive amounts of trash to out-of-state landfills. That’s shaping up to be a pricey proposition for taxpayers, especially as the Northeast’s landfill capacity is anticipated to only get smaller over the next five years.
Municipal leaders are working to find ways to get residents to throw out less stuff. Katie Dykes, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, told members of the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management (CCSMM) on Monday that unit-based pricing, also called “pay as you throw,” could be one solution. “These types of programs shift waste disposal costs to the user,” Dykes said. “Just like utility charges for electricity and for water. And this provides the price signal, if you will, to individuals, to residents, to be aware of the cost of disposal.”