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Food Waste Prevention and Recycling
Legislative Update

Ann Gadwah

March 2024

The 2024 Legislative Session is underway, and we are off to a pretty good start in the Environment Committee. There is a bill that would reduce our impact on the environment around us and save us money on the local level. We hope that you will be inspired to take action on this important issue. 

 

As you may know, most of our waste ends up in one of the four incinerators in the state. The rest is shipped out of state to landfills in Ohio or Pennsylvania. Trash incineration is extremely dirty, releasing dioxins, carbon monoxide, and other toxins into the air. It also creates highly toxic ash, landfilled right here in Eastern Connecticut. Incineration contributes to our already poor air quality and to climate change. It is a poor solution to waste management, as is shipping our waste out of state – polluting someone else’s backyard, shipped in diesel trucks, contributing to pollution and carbon emissions. 

 

Connecticut has been using these methods for 40 years to deal with our waste stream. Our incinerators are aging and are an unacceptable way of dealing with waste. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the bids are coming in already to replace existing incinerators with new ones. Shipping waste out of state is unsustainable and polluting, and the costs to taxpayers and municipalities continues to rise. We must start to tackle this issue on the front end, not on the back end. Food waste prevention and recycling is the answer. 

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Image: A treasure trove of wasted food by Foerster, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

On February 21, the Connecticut Zero Waste Coalition held an informational webinar on Food Waste Prevention and Recycling. You can view the recording here. It was well attended with over 80 folks present. We heard from folks on food donation, composting, municipal recycling programs, and advocates. There were amazing questions and participation from our attendees. I am convinced that this is the year to significantly reduce our waste stream! 

 

On that note, the Environment Committee has raised SB 191, which is legislation that would require big commercial food producers to create a plan to donate the majority of their excess food for consumption, designate food waste as a recyclable item, and require municipalities to create food waste recycling programs in the next few years. These are important and substantial steps that could potentially reduce 25% of Connecticut’s solid waste stream. Send a message to your legislator today in support! This bill will also likely be heard in a public hearing in the next week or so. Keep an eye on the Environment Committee’s webpage for updates! We will need everyone to submit testimony in support of this legislation. 

 

Waste is a personal issue to most folks because we all create it. There are so many things we have done over the years to try to reduce waste; the bottle bill, recycling mandates, the plastic bag ban. You probably do many things in your personal life as well. We now need to address food waste at the state level. The status quo is unacceptable. I hope we can count on your support.

Ann Gadwah is Advocacy & Outreach Organizer with a focus on our legislative work at the State Capitol.

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