Town trash and recyclables get a new destination

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Dec. 16, 2011
Covanta, a waste disposal and recycling company, will handle recycled waste from East Hartford residences.
Covanta, a waste disposal and recycling company, will handle recycled waste from East Hartford residences.

Most residents have no idea where their trash and recyclables go, once they are picked up at the curb by a truck each week. But for municipalities where the trash goes and who picks it up is an expense that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mayor Marcia Leclerc and members of the East Hartford Town Council, who have for months been working their way through proposed waste disposal contracts, voted Dec. 13 to negotiate a contract with Covanta Company of Southeastern Connecticut, which is based in Preston.

East Hartford produces about 14,000 tons of solid waste, 200 tons of bulky waste and 4,000 tons of recyclables.  The cost to the town is expected to go from 69 per ton to 58.75 per ton.

The agreement means that the town will end its contract with Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA). Finance Director Michael Walsh told the council that East Hartford spends about $1.2 million annually for waste removal, and the change to Covanta could save as much as $250,000 annually. In addition, a contract with Covanta will enable to town to receive refunds from recyclables at $22.50 per ton, which could be as much as $74,000 each year.

“It’s a very competitive contract in a very competitive market,” Walsh said.

East Hartford’s current contract is with Murphy Road Recycling and Trash Away, where solid waste and recycling is brought to their trash to energy plant in Hartford. In recent years, costs have risen and trucks spent more and more time waiting - up to 45 minutes in line - to dump their trash at the Murphy Road facility. Both CRRA and Murphy Road Recycling put in bids for town disposal contracts, but the town also began discussions with Covanta.

Under the contract being negotiated with Covanta, town trash and recyclables would instead be removed to a transfer station in Willimantic and dumped, without any waiting time for the trucks. Despite the 40-mile round trip to Willimantic, the savings in wait time will be significant, Walsh added. The contract would also include leaf removal to a landfill in Peabody, Mass.

East Hartford began reviewing its options in solid waste and recycling disposal several years ago when the town joined a 20-town consortium called Connecticut Solid Waste Authority, an attempt by the towns to band together to get better rates from CRRA. In the end, most towns, including East Hartford, found it more advantageous to seek their own contracts individually once again.

“By moving forward sooner rather than later with the Covanta contract, we have more options available to us, before other towns get their contracts locked in,’’ said Town Council Chair Rich Kehoe.

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