Act 148 – VT’s Universal Recycling Law
In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148), which bans, in phases, the disposal of three major types of waste materials commonly found in Vermonters’ trash bins:
- “blue bin” recyclables BY JULY 2015
- leaf and yard debris; clean wood BY JULY 2016
- food scraps (organic, compostable kitchen wastes) BY JULY 2020
The above “waste” materials are now being recognized as recoverable resources that should not congest our shrinking landfill space. Furthermore, more than half of what Vermonters throw away can be diverted from the landfills (see below).
Vermont Waste Composition
The state recognizes that this can be a large change for many Vermont businesses and residents, and has focused on creating convenient, consistent, and cost-effective systems to help us reach statewide compliance. In order to do so, they have required curbside collection requirements for licensed haulers to offer collection services for recyclables by 2015; leaf and yard debris by 2016; and food scraps by 2017, with exemptions under certain conditions. The state also required the adoption of Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) variable rate pricing for landfill material to encourage diversion.
What does this mean for households in Addison County?
Our District is in a strong position for transitioning to the requirements of Act 148, since many of the elements of the law are already adopted and enforced by the District and its member towns. We already required the separation of recyclables, clean wood, and leaf and yard debris from the trash. Additionally, we already required parallel collection for recyclables, as well as a Pay-As-You-Throw model for residential customers. The biggest change that residents will likely see is the separation of food scraps come 2020. The good news is that there are many ways to divert food scraps, such as backyard composting, dropping food scraps off at the District transfer station, or feeding it to livestock (with restrictions). By July 1, 2017, all haulers, transfer stations, and drop-off stations are required to offer food scrap collection to those who wish to begin early.
What does this mean for businesses in Addison County?
Again, businesses in our District have already adopted many of the Act’s elements. Likely the largest change for businesses at this point is the separating of food scraps. Starting July 1, 2017, all businesses that produce more than 1/3 ton of food scraps each week will be required to divert their food scraps for other means, as outlined in the Food Recovery Hierarchy below. Many businesses in our District have already begun this process! Click here to view the growing list of businesses who are working hard to divert their food waste.
For more resources on Act 148:
Follow this link to the VT Agency of Natural Resource’s website for information about Act 148, including a summary of the law, fact sheets, and many additional resources.
Follow this link for downloadable Universal Recycling Symbols, posters and resources.
Also available online: Systems Analysis of the Impact of Act 148 on Solid Waste Management in Vermont. This Draft Report, prepared by DSM Environmental Services, Inc. and Tellus Institute, can be downloaded directly by clicking here.