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Orange Trash Bags At Newtown Transfer Station



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With the ongoing waste crisis Connecticut is experiencing, Newtown is doing its part to help the earth by implementing a new program at the Transfer Station. Some residents “took the challenge” last September to only use two trash bags a week, and now the program will be expanding to include all Transfer Station permit holders.

The town will be supplying each permit holder with 104 orange bags, which will be the only bags accepted at the Transfer Station starting July 1, 2025. Fred Hurley, director of Public Works, explained that Public Works and the Town of Newtown are encouraging residents to engage in this pilot program so they will be used to the system once it becomes mandatory next year. The bags are 13 gallons each, like a standard kitchen bag, and will be free for all permit holders. If a resident needs additional bags, they will be available to purchase through Public Works. A roll of 13 bags will be $3.50, with 32- and 55-gallon sizes also available to purchase. The bags provided to residents will take one more additional cost out of their weekly grocery shopping, and will only affect those who use more than two bags a week.

This new implementation is meant to coincide with the Food Scraps Recycling program, which will be ramping up at the end of the summer with the arrival of the new aerated static pile (ASP). Jennifer Heaton-Jones, executive director of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA), explained, “The characterization study by CT DEEP found that 90% of what’s in the waste stream can be recycled, repurposed, or composted.” Food scraps are comprised of mostly water, so it is not efficient to burn them in waste-to-energy plants. Heaton-Jones continued, saying, “25 percent of the waste stream is … just paper. So if you take paper and you take 32 percent of food waste, you’re at 50 percent [reduction of waste.]”

This initiative is part of the “save-as-you-throw” program. Hurley explains the program this way, “Essentially, just as you pay for how much electricity you use versus what your neighbor uses.” Heaton-Jones echoed this, saying, “You are accountable for how much waste you generate. Be mindful of what you’re throwing away. Compost more, recycle more.”

Though residents seem open to this change, they’re left with questions about how the Transfer Station and Public Works are going to enforce this change. As the program stands right now, there will be a separate receptacle for other trash bags. The Transfer Station attendees will keep track of permit numbers on cars and will start reserving the “bulky waste” bin for actual bulky waste.

The site of the Newtown Transfer Station is not only home to the town of Newtown’s trash, it is also a regional transfer station for the area’s private haulers. The waste brought there by private companies is then picked up and transferred to Oak Ridge in Danbury.

“We want [residents] to reduce their waste,” Hurley said, “It’s more about encouragement and education at this point.”

The new orange trash bags are for household trash only. No yard waste, hazardous waste, construction debris, or recyclables should go into the new bags. —photo courtesy of HRRA
A resident holds up a filled orange trash bag in September, when the pilot program was first initiated in town. —photo courtesy of HRRA
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