Waste Reduction and Savings for Municipalities Hosted by NVCOG and SCRCOG

The Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG) and the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) are hosting two forums that will inform municipal staff and elected officials on the implementation and successes of Organics Diversion & Unit Based Pricing (UBP).  

The two-part forum will include one event for municipalities with transfer stations, and another event focused on implementing organics diversion and UBP with curbside pickup programs.   

The Forums will include an informational presentation, along with a panel of waste reduction personnel that will share their experiences on how they have operated and implemented Organics Diversion and UBP in their communities.  

The transfer station event hosted by NVCOG is scheduled for Wednesday, January 10th at 10am via Zoom. You can register for this webinar at https://tinyurl.com/TransferStationForum. 

The curbside collection event hosted by SCRCOG is scheduled for Wednesday, January 17th at 10am.  You may register for this webinar at https://tinyurl.com/CurbsideCollectionForum. 

These forums follow the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (CT DEEP) efforts to address the state’s shrinking waste capacity by reducing waste. Organics Diversion and education on UBP are being piloted in 15 Connecticut towns through grant funds from the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Grant program provided by DEEP. 

 It is essential that municipalities find a sustainable solution for waste disposal, because according to CT DEEP disposal costs are rising as over 800,000 tons are currently being shipped to out-of-state landfills and landfill capacity in New England is expected to drop to zero as early as 2041 Governor Lamont Announces 2023 Legislative Proposal: Addressing the Future of Materials and Waste Management (ct.gov).  We look forward to having a valuable discussion on how to practice sustainable waste management in your community! Feel free to reply to this email with any questions. 

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PRESS RELEASE: Trash Reduction Pilot “Green Storytime” Scheduled for Thursday, December 28th in Middlebury

Tom Dougherty
Environmental Planner
Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments
(203) 725-3096

Trash Reduction Pilot “Green Storytime”  Scheduled for Thursday, December 28th in Middlebury 

(Middlebury, CT) – The Middlebury Public Library, with support from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG), will host a Green Storytime for children ages 4 and up. This Storytime aims to bring awareness about recycling and sustainable waste habits to the community. This event will be held at the Middlebury Public Library located at 30 Crest Rd, Middlebury, CT 06762 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 28, 2023. Children will learn about reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, and have the opportunity to play a recycling game and do a craft. Registration is required. To register call 203-758-2634 or sign up in person at the library. 

This event continues NVCOG’s efforts to promote Middlebury’s Trash Reduction Pilot, which began on July 1st for Transfer Station users and aims to reduce trash and divert organics.  The pilot is funded by the Sustainable Materials Management Grants Program from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. To learn more about NVCOG’s role in this program, visit https://nvcogct.gov/project/current-projects/smm-trash-reduction-pilot-program/ 

Middlebury’s pilot involves the distribution of free trash bags (orange) and food scrap bags (green) to Transfer Station users. Residents are asked to dispose of green food scrap bags in a “food waste” container located at the Transfer Station and dispose of their orange trash bags in the usual dumpster.  

The initial year’s supply of bags will be available at the Middlebury Transfer Station if you have not already received yours. A broad base of support for these programs among community organizations across the state shows promise for solving CT’s waste crisis.   

Sustainability Spotlight: Blight and Native Landscaping

Dive into the ‘Sustainability Spotlight’ by the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, a municipal guide to blending sustainability with land use regulations. Uncover creative ideas and hands-on approaches to foster a greener, more sustainable future. 
Written by Christine O’Neill, Environmental Planner II

Many Connecticut municipalities have adopted blight ordinances to regulate unsightly properties that lower surrounding home values or create public health and safety issues. Such ordinances may be enforced by zoning officials, the police department, or a combination of the two. While these regulations serve an important role, they may unwittingly outlaw native landscaping from your community. 

Native landscaping uses plants that have historically grown in a given area to achieve ecological benefits. Native plants provide food for pollinators and wildlife, require less watering and maintenance than ornamental counterparts, and launch deeper root systems that prevent erosion and exchange nutrients with the soil. Another component of native landscaping is maintaining or emulating the natural processes of the ecosystem, such as not raking leaves in the fall or cutting back dormant plants. Two movements associated with native landscaping are “No Mow May” (allowing insects to emerge from overwintering while providing food sources for early pollinators) and “Leave the Leaves” (intentionally leaving layers of leaf-litter and duff, which are valuable for soil health, insect and amphibian habitat, and wildlife cover).   

Compared to the highly manicured gardening we often see, a native garden may look unruly – even falling into the definition of blight. Several municipalities in our region consider the following to be elements of blight: overgrown vegetation, leaf litter, grasses over a given number of inches, and “weeds.1”  

Consider amending your definition of blight to exclude native landscaping as described above. The Town of Cheshire in our region already excludes “areas maintained in their original naturally wooded state, or a natural field state” from its definition, while the City of Stamford carves out an exemption for “managed natural meadow landscapes.” Confer with your municipal counsel to ensure your proposed language is legally sound and enforceable.  

[1] Note: “Weeds” does not refer to any particular group of plants – it is a descriptive term used to characterize any plants that are undesirable in a given environment. One neighbor’s weed is another neighbor’s wildflower.

Please send any questions or suggestions to Christine O’Neill, Environmental Planner II at coneill@nvcogct.gov