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Connecticut officials downplay need for waste-to-energy after Hartford plant closes

A wall of plastic trash at Garten Services in Salem, Ore., is headed to the landfill. The vast majority of plastic can't be or won't be recycled.
Laura Sullivan
/
NPR
A wall of plastic trash is headed to the landfill.

Connecticut officials are downplaying the need for waste-to-energy facilities following the closure of a major trash burning plant in Hartford this year.

The Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, or MIRA, waste-to-energy facility in Hartford closed in July. Now more 860,000 tons of Connecticut trash is shipped out-of-state.

Shipping trash is expensive and unacceptable, said Norm Needleman, the Senate chair of the Energy and Technology Committee.

Policy makers have concerns about the environmental impact and commercial viability of trash burning facilities located in low-income communities.

“Without some stability in pricing I think this business becomes questionable on all fronts and then we are left with shipping garbage out of state. And I think that’s the least desirable option right now.” Needleman said to members of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority.

The authority is drafting recommendations aimed at the trash-to-energy industry for lawmakers to consider next year.

Current policy prioritizes recycling to reduce waste. The goal aims to reach up to 60% solid waste diversion by 2030.

There are four trash-to-energy plants currently operating in Connecticut.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.