Editor’s Note 3/23/2017
The City of New Britain, working in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), has completed its study of the SMART program and determined that it could save the City more than $25 million over 10 years and decrease overall sanitation costs by 11 percent.
With Connecticut’s waste incinerators running out of capacity, New Britain and other municipalities have been studying SMART and other alternatives as a way to reduce trash and control the rising costs of managing and disposing of residents’ wastes.
“The SMART program rewards individuals who reduce their trash and maximize recycling—which actually brings in revenue to the City. It also more fairly distributes costs for trash disposal among homeowners and business owners,” said Mayor Erin E. Stewart. “The SMART program would not only help with the trash crisis, but it will equalize what households pay. A family of four will only pay for what they throw away and not pay for the trash of their neighbors or large properties.” The New Britain Public Works Department determined that in addition to the $25 million in potential savings, a SMART program could reduce New Britain’s annual trash tonnage by 44 percent, from about 21,500 tons down to about 12,000 tons, while increasing recycling by 90 percent from 4,200 tons per year to more than 8,000. It costs the City $62.50 to dispose of one ton of trash; the City receives $9 for every one ton of recyclables.
In 2008, New Britain instituted a Clean Cart program with the goal of reducing trash disposal costs and increasing recycling.
As part of the study, the City has launched a website to provide information about SMART (www.smarttrashnb.com.) The City previously held public meetings to introduce residents to the concept, and during these open discussions, welcomed questions and feedback from residents about the SMART program.
“The public meetings were extremely helpful, and most people want the City to be more proactive about reducing trash. Reactions to the SMART concept were largely positive,” said Public Works Director Mark Moriarty. He also said that residents were concerned about the environment, as well as the costs of trash, and that residents have a general sense that some are doing a great job at reducing waste, but that many still have overflowing trash barrels.
“It was good to see so much community involvement in this issue. It’s clear that everyone can get behind the goal of reducing trash, and that people want New Britain to be an innovator at cutting waste,” said Moriarty.
The Public Works Department and others within the City will continue to explore whether it makes sense to incorporate SMART trash into the City’s overall waste reduction strategy. Mayor
Stewart has expressed a desire to have a comprehensive range of integrated, innovative programs in place by 2018 to handle the capacity issue. One of those innovative programs comes in the form of Simple Recycling.
New Britain’s Common Council recently approved a partnership with Simple Recycling (www.simplerecycling.com), a company that provides free curbside collection of used textiles and small household items. Instead of throwing away those items, residents would simply put them in free bags (provided by Simple Recycling) and set them at the curb on their normal recycling day.
Simple Recycling’s service will be free to residents and the City. Simple Recycling will in turn pay the City based on the weight of material collected. In New Britain, the program will be called “It’s So Simple,” and is expected to begin the early summer. It will be the first of its kind in Connecticut.
More details on “It’s So Simple” will be made available over the next few months.
“If more residents recycle, we have the opportunity to bring more revenue to the City while reducing our impact on the environment,” Mayor Stewart said.