Food waste to be recycled in Bridgewater
Those turkey drumstick bones.
That leftover lima bean casserole.
The final, syrup-soaked pancake from an oversized stack.
All of it is useful. Most of it gets thrown away.
The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority wants to compost all that wasted food. Starting in April, it will start a pilot program in Bridgewater to get townspeople to participate.
It may be the first program of its type in the state.
"I know programs like this have worked in other parts of the country,'' said First Selectman Curtis Read. "Hopefully, it will work here. I support it.''
The move to recycle food waste is logical, said Cheryl Reedy, the authority's executive director.
"Think of when we first started recycling,'' Reedy said. "It was pretty much cans, bottles and newspapers."
"Then we added plastics,'' Reedy said. "Now, we're recycling electronic equipment. The state has started to recycle paint and mattresses. Food waste is now the low-hanging fruit.''
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has also spoken of the need to recycle more of the state's waste.
For years, the state's recycling rate has hovered around 25 percent. The DEEP's new goal is to reduce the waste stream by 58 percent by 2024 through recycling, reuse and by not using some materials to begin with.
Food waste is about a quarter of municipal trash, said Jen Iannucci, the authority's assistant director. Because it contains so much moisture, it's not ideal for incinerators.
"It's harder to burn,'' she said.
The food waste that gets shipped from Connecticut to other states and is buried in landfills produces methane -- a gas that contributes to climate change.
Iannucci, who lives in Bridgewater, said the town is a good one for a pilot program because it's small and because one company -- All American Waste -- picks up most of the garbage in town.
The program will provide participants with a countertop container for food waste, and a six-month supply of bags.
All American Waste will provide curbside containers.
People will separate their table scraps from other trash and put them in the counter bin. Ditto on those aging grapes or the uneaten zucchini growing its first flecks of mold in the refrigerator.
All American Waste will take this food to one of two places: New Milford Farms, a facility that's been composting food wastes since 1991, or New England Compost in Danbury.
There it will be tended and turned until it reverts to soil.
Iannucci said about 120 people in town have signed up for the program. More may join after a public meeting in March.
"We think it will work,'' Reedy said. "And we think other towns will try it, as well.''
If it goes well, people will be throwing away a lot less garbage. The state will move toward its 2024 goals and the food will replenish the soil from which it came.
"It'll be going back to the landscape, the earth,'' Iannucci said.