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There will be a reckoning in 2022 about our trash

Looking back: 2021

As 2021 drew to a close, two towns —Falls Village and Sharon — still had not committed to the state Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority’s (MIRA) five-year plan to ship municipal solid waste out of state for disposal.

MIRA Chair Don Stein said in a Nov. 1 interview with The Lakeville Journal that addressing Connecticut’s solid waste management will require action from both the executive and legislative branches of the state government.

MIRA President Tom Kirk said in the same Nov. 1 interview that the immediate problem is that the trash-to-energy facility in Hartford (where Northwest Corner towns send their trash) is going to close on July 1, 2022. The Hartford facility serves 49 towns. It burns municipal solid waste and converts it into electricity.

The facility is outdated, and in 2020 the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) rejected a proposal to spend $330 million to redevelop it.

Which means for the short term the garbage will be shipped out of state.

This in turn means significantly higher fees for participating municipalities. Kirk said Connecticut is already shipping some 400,000 tons of waste out of state now. The Hartford material will add another 500,000 tons.

Nobody is happy about this. Kirk said “dumping in poor rural communities” in other states will almost certainly cause environmental problems in the future.

There are four similar trash-to-energy plants in the state, but they are all at capacity, Kirk said.

Stein said that DEEP’s focus is on longterm initiatives, but “none of these things are mandated by the Legislature.”

He said he doesn’t anticipate any significant change in the situation in the short term.

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