Why is Middletown trying the SAYT program?

The City is working to achieve statewide waste reduction and diversion goals established in Public Act 14-94 and manage increasing trash disposal costs. According to DEEP, this strategy is the best way to achieve reduction and diversion goals and control costs.   Thousands of communities use unit based pricing for trash. Adding the co-collection of food scraps, offers a new, convenient service to customers. The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has encouraged communities to pilot this type of program through its Sustainable Materials Management Grant program. The City was a recipient of one of these awards.  

Trash disposal costs are increasing. Connecticut, and all of the Northeast, is experiencing a capacity shortage for trash.  This program is designed to control these costs by reducing waste and managing the waste more sustainably.  Some current challenges facing CT’s waste system include:

  • The Hartford MIRA facility, one of the largest trash incinerators in Connecticut, shut down in 2022. The four remaining incinerators in Connecticut are all past their life spans and are likely to shut down in the next decade.  The loss of existing capacity and the inability to create new capacity are driving significant increases in trash disposal fees.  

  • The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection estimates more than 800,000 tons of waste are being shipped to out-of-state landfills due to capacity issues. This is very expensive and not sustainable.  

  • Landfill capacity in New England is expected to drop to zero by as early as 2041.  No new incinerator facilities are opening because of public opposition.  It is extremely difficult to add meaningful waste disposal capacity in the region.  Only one new incinerator has been built in the US in the past 32 years (Florida in 2015). 

  • When food scraps decompose in a landfill, they emit methane gas, which warms the atmosphere at a rate 30 times more than carbon dioxide.  58% of methane emissions released to the atmosphere from municipal solid waste landfills are from food waste.  Turning food scraps into clean energy and compost is cheaper and better for everyone.  

  • The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments designed a story map explaining more about the crisis. It focuses on their area, but the problems are the same across the state.  View it here: storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/be24e917780f42909ddb3248384a2b90

Expected benefits of Save As You Throw:

  • The Sanitation District is expected to reduce waste by at least 40%.

  • The addition of co-collection, where food scraps go in a different (green) bag and are placed in the trash cart, will increase the amount we can reduce. 

  • Within the first month of Middletown’s Save As You Throw program, we collected almost 8,000 lbs of food scraps.  For comparison, we collect about 3,000 lbs per month at our food scrap drop-offs.  The drop-offs were a great first option for food waste diversion, but only the most committed use them. 

  • Those who try to reduce waste, recycle more and separate food scraps will pay less than those who don’t.   

  • This program will protect customers of the District as prices increase and disposal capacity dwindles.  Less waste will be less costly and more manageable. 

  • With less trash, the District can consider other creative programs; once a week recycling collection, separate bag collection of small yard debris, what else? Tell us what you want! 

Experience shows we cannot continue doing the same thing and expect different results.  Just as other systems change, it is time to change the way we manage waste.  Thirty years ago, waste disposal changed with the implementation of curbside recycling. Now we know just recycling is not enough. Recycling has been stagnant for decades. We have to make greater and more varied efforts to reduce the amount of waste we generate.  The EPA and DEEP solid waste hierarchy prioritizes waste reduction and reuse first, before recycling and disposal. We should be reducing and reusing more than recycling and disposing.  This system prioritizes waste reduction.  More information on this is here: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP-CCSMM

Show All Answers

1. What is the Save As You Throw Program?
2. Why is Middletown trying the SAYT program?
3. How does the program work?
4. Are there truly high costs for disposal?
5. What is the City's relationship with the Lisbon Incinerator?
6. How was the program researched?
7. Are other towns doing this program?
8. How can I save money with this program?
9. Is this program actually going to work to reduce waste?
10. Where can I get more information on unit-based pricing?
11. Why do the bags cost more?
12. How are the bags collected?
13. What stores sell the bags?
14. What if I can’t afford the bags?
15. Is the City enforcing the use of the bags?
16. Is Middletown profiting from the sale of the bags?
17. Are we required to use the orange trash bags?
18. Why is the City encouraging the use of plastic bags?
19. Can the City use another vendor that offers bags that cost less?
20. How do I separate my food scraps?
21. Where can I get a food scrap bucket or countertop container?
22. I already do backyard composting. Should I participate in the food scrap recycling program?
23. What do I do with yard waste?
24. What do I do with cat litter and dog waste
25. Why didn’t I see a reduction in my bill?
26. What do I do with bulky waste?
27. Do I do anything differently with my recycling?
28. Is there a bag for recycling?
29. Why can’t I just put my food scraps down the garbage disposal?
30. How is food scrap collection being enforced?
31. Are the food scraps really separated?
32. Won’t the food scrap collection program create more work?
33. How do I get involved in advising the program?
34. What is the Sanitation District?
35. How does the Sanitation District fee work?
36. Why do I have to pay a fee for the Sanitation District, even if I am not using the service?
37. Why didn’t I see a reduction in my bill?
38. I’m a renter and never had a sanitation bill. Where’s my savings?
39. Can I choose to use a private trash hauler?
40. How did the City figure out the costs of this program?
41. Why can’t we just have a voluntary program?
42. Why are we doing this just in the Sanitation District?
43. Is it true that Wesleyan and Middlesex Health are exempt from this program?
44. Why can’t the city give everyone an in-home electric “composter” instead?
45. Are schools recycling and diverting food scraps?
46. How does Middletown’s program compare to Stonington’s?
47. What does this mean if I am a Landlord?
48. What does this mean if I am a Renter?
49. How does the Sanitation District pricing compare to private haulers?