Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



May 20, 2021

Sen. Needleman Votes to Strengthen Connecticut Farms, Improve Our Environment and Produce Bio-Energy

HARTFORD – State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) voted for a bill this evening that will allow more Connecticut farms the opportunity to convert farm waste and food scraps into valuable, usable biogas – beneficial for both farmers and for towns and local taxpayers who are confronting the ever-rising cost of disposing of solid waste, nearly 25% of which is food waste.

House Bill 6503, “AN ACT CONCERNING THE SITING OF ANAEROBIC DIGESTION FACILITIES ON FARMS,” passed the Senate this evening on a 35-0 vote and now heads to Governor Lamont’s desk for his signature into law.

“Anaerobic digestion, while somewhat complicated, can be broken down into just a few points, all of them beneficial for Connecticut: it helps farmers and taxpayers dispose of food waste in a way that allows it to be used for fuel,” said Sen. Needleman. “This benefits the environment, benefits taxpayers and benefits alternate energy sources in our state. It’s a win-win-win, and as a result I’m proud to vote in support.”

HB 6503 streamlines the state permitting process for building anerobic digestion facilities on farms that also host animal feeding operations, such as dairy farms. Anaerobic digestion is a process by which bacteria digest and break down organic material (such as animal manure and food scraps) and produce a methane-rich biogas, which can then be used to generate heat, create electricity, or fuel vehicles.

The bill requires farms that are also the site of an anerobic digestion facility to maintain a comprehensive nutrient management plan – developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that not only benefits the animal’s health, but also ensures that the water and soil on the farm does not become contaminated with a variety of random and possibly harmful feed stock ingredients.

The bill also requires more producers of organic material (for example, restaurants and grocery stores) to separate those organic materials (which are recyclable) from other solid waste and to recycle those organic materials at nearby composting facilities. Under current law, only facilities which produce 52 tons annually of organic waste had to recycle it; this bill cuts that in half, to 26 tons, therefore affecting more facilities.

Recycling organic waste like food scraps is important because according to a 2015 study by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), food waste from homes and businesses nearly equaled paper waste as the largest percentage of all trash: 22.3% food waste versus 23.1% paper waste. Food waste is the fastest-growing segment of Connecticut’s solid waste stream, and it’s also the largest portion of waste that can be recycled.

The bill also requires DEEP to establish a voluntary pilot program for municipalities seeking to save money on their solid waste disposal costs by separating organic materials from other trash and ensuring that those organic materials can be recycled at authorized composting facilities.