Although a state-funded program intended to remove organic matter from the city’s solid waste stream disintegrated when the City Council didn’t act upon a new ordinance, the city’s mayor believes some elements can be recycled as part of a larger plan to cut down on waste. Mayor Dorinda Borer said she is looking to partner with a state department and a regional group of mayors to determine the best way to solve the burgeoning waste disposal crisis.
In 2022, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued a $1.3 million grant to the city as one of several municipalities in the state to attempt a program that would have residents separate food scraps and other organic waste from regular garbage, using two differently-colored trash bags that would be sorted at a facility. From there, the organic waste would be sent to an anaerobic digester that would turn that waste into renewable energy, while drastically reducing the weight — and overall cost — of the remaining garbage that would need to be carted away and incinerated.
Despite the environmental benefits of off-setting harmful emissions produced by incinerators and landfills, the pitch to residents was primarily a financial one: the cost of disposing of solid waste is increasing as it must be shipped farther away as local trash plants have aged out of functionality and nearby landfills have reached capacity.