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Sierra Club Connecticut Supports Zero Waste Policies to Replace Trash Incineration

Susan Eastwood

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What to do with Connecticut’s trash has become a real dilemma. We are about to do something about it!


Sierra Club Connecticut is working with environmental justice and environmental groups, led by the CT Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice, to promote Zero Waste policies in Connecticut. We are excited to be working in cooperation to find cleaner, less polluting solutions to waste management that takes into account public health considerations—as well as the disproportionate impacts on communities of color or low income, where polluting trash incinerators and landfills tend to be located. 


Zero Waste is defined by the Zero Waste International Association (ZWIA) as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” Let’s say right up front that we are realistic, and don’t expect to ever get down to no waste at all, but the goal is to get as close as possible.


Zero Waste advocates are engaging with the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) to map out ways to reach out to towns and residents to promote Zero Waste solutions, which can reduce the waste stream by more than half. In Connecticut, food scraps and other organic waste make up 33% of the trash that now goes into one of five large incinerators around the state. Food scraps alone make up 22% of our waste, over 500,000 tons. If we had a way of diverting organic waste into composting or anaerobic digestion facilities, we could reduce the waste stream by one third. Another 40 percent or more could be recycled if we put more effective recycling in place. A first step would be to pass the proposed Bottle Bill upgrade which would take up to 400 million bottles out of the waste stream annually, and if the bill is amended to include wine and liquor bottles, 60% of the glass tossed. 


There are many ideas for dealing with the remaining trash that do not involve burning it, which produces dirty air pollution and concentrated toxic ash. We want the MIRA trash incinerator shut down; trash incineration is the most expensive and polluting way to manage waste or to make energy. Connecticut does not need to choose between burning waste and shipping it out of state to be buried.  The state can instead implement Zero Waste solutions that would prevent more waste than the Hartford incinerator burns.  


DEEP is forming four working groups for municipal officials to study and make recommendations in the following areas:

  1. Composting

  2. Recycling

  3. Extended Producer Responsibility

  4. Save Money And Reduce Trash - ‘SMART’ or Pay as you Throw.


Help us reach our Zero Waste goals in your home and in our state. Advocates for Zero Waste have started a petition in support of policies to enable Connecticut to achieve its Zero Waste goals. Please look for the petition and action alerts in the coming weeks!

Susan Eastwood is longtime Sierra Club member and is an ExComm member and serves on the Political Committee in our Connecticut Chapter.

Want to learn more? Join us for an online presentation on this topic on October 27 at noon. RSVP here.

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