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Trash diversion Looks For A Smarter Way In New Haven

Trash diversion Looks For A Smarter Way In New Haven


One of the things that we don’t ever want to think about is trash. We all create it, and every week we put our bins out on the side of the street, but where it goes after that is out of sight, out of mind. That trash does go somewhere though, whether to a recycling plant or a dump, and it is starting to become a problem for the towns and cities of Connecticut. Landfills are filling up and there’s talk about beginning to utilize out of state locations, and recycling plants are inundated with materials that they just can’t handle. But some municipalities are looking at re-educating the public and alternatives for a greener future.

New Haven is one such city that has put an emphasis on recycling. Not only are public trash cans popping up with recycling capabilities, but they’ve wanted to make sure that everyone knew what was appropriate to recycle and what wasn’t in their own homes. The first thing to know is what can go in: plastic bottles, containers, and one use cups can go in. So can food boxes, even pizza boxes if they are clean. Aluminum foil is in. Cans and bottles made from metals are also in. Glass jars can also be recycled. A good idea is to check for the recycle logo on all of your goods. 

But it’s really the things that can’t be recycled that are clogging up the system. Some things might surprise you. A tub of ice cream cannot be recycled. Paint cans are obviously a no go, but so are the lids of yogurt tubs. Tissue paper and paper cups cannot be recycled and many plastic items like prescription bottles, loose soda caps, and plastic utensils cannot be recycled. These items are shifted away from the recycling streams and then sent to the same landfills as the rest of the trash. This costs cities like New Haven money, because it is an added trip away from the recycler. 

Know the rules back to top

That is why New Haven spent the summer of 2018 stickering their blue recycling bins to let people know these rules. They may be tricky, sorting the ice cream cartons (bad) from the cereal boxes (good), but in the end, this is really for the environment. It will have you thinking about making responsible choices for the future.  

Other towns are dealing with trash streams that are simply becoming too much. Towns like West Hartford and New London have put on the table a “Pay-As-You-Throw” option, where town residents will have to purchase specific trash bags. Despite receiving the acronym SMART, Save Money and Reduce Trash, plans like these have seen less than enthusiastic consent from townsfolk. Much of the problem stems from being forced to buy specific trash bags at set prices.    

But the savings add up for the city. According to a report in the Hartford Courant, a town like West Hartford would see savings of up to $560,000, and an additional $1.6 million in revenue from a SMART system. The numbers added up so well that a West Hartford panel suggested an 18-month review of the program, but there was so much negative feedback it didn’t get off the ground.  By 2024, towns are going to need to divert 60 percent of their trash streams to reach a state goal. A Pay-As-You-Throw program could divert up to 50 percent of a current trash stream, putting towns and cities within reach of that goal. Connecticut residents who went to Farm Aid in Hartford this past September heard from farmers around the state about composting, which is one of the best ways to divert trash. Whatever the solution, this is our only Earth, and sometimes you have to think about what you’re throwing out, even if you don’t want to.