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Trash program would protect New London from higher fees

On behalf of the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resource Recovery Authority (SCRRRA) Board, I applaud the New London City Council and management for the leadership they are showing on trash reduction in our region. By incorporating SMART practices — Save Money And Reduce Trash — into the city’s 2019 budget, they have chosen to reduce New London’s waste tonnage in a way that benefits New London residents and the entire SCRRRA region.

SCRRRA is comprised of 12 towns in southeastern Connecticut and was created to implement long-term solutions for municipal solid waste and recycling. The authority helps its member communities in several important ways.

SCRRRA member communities pay lower tip fees than anywhere else in the Northeast. Our tip has averaged $58 per ton while our neighbors are paying $70 and $80 per ton. However, the subsidy that keeps the cost low is finite and when it is exhausted SCRRRA communities will be exposed to higher rates for waste disposal. Therefore, each ton of waste that New London and other SCRRRA communities divert from disposal extends the amount of time that SCRRRA can continue to provide its regional partners this subsidy.

SMART programs have proven to reduce waste consistently by about 45 percent, while saving municipalities money from reduced disposal costs. When you combine these reduced costs with the extended tip fee and recycling services subsidy New London receives from SCRRRA, SMART’s financial benefits are significant.

There is no real downside. Whenever a community first considers SMART, residents are always concerned about potential noncompliance, illegal dumping and other issues that might arise from the program. I realize many in New London have expressed similar reservations, but the experience of Stonington and Sprague, two other SCRRRA communities that have implemented SMART, strongly suggest that these concerns are unfounded. Illegal dumping has not increased in either community. Moreover, compliance issues were few and quickly resolved as residents became familiar with their respective programs.

Both communities have experienced a dramatic drop in waste tonnage, increased recycling and reductions in disposal fee costs. I am confident that New London will have a very similar experience with SMART and my hope is that other SCRRRA communities will choose to follow your lead.

David Aldridge is the executive director of SCRRRA. While funding for the new “SMART” trash collection program was included in the New London budget approved by the council, on June 18 it tabled a motion to implement the program. A final decision remains pending.

 

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