Food Scrap Collection FAQ’s

Unsure about what the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148) is requiring? Don’t know what you have to do? Read some of the commonly asked questions we get from residents. If you think we’re missing something, let us know by emailing:

Do I have to start separating my food scraps from my trash?

Not yet – residents are not required to separate food scraps from their trash until July 1, 2020. The District Transfer Station in Middlebury and almost all of the municipal drop-offs are already accepting food scraps. Haulers are not required to start collecting food scraps at the curb until July 1, 2020. ACSWMD is offering resources to help residents, towns and haulers begin by July 1, 2017. Haulers

So, what do I have to do?

You are not required by law to do anything until July 1, 2020. However, if you did want to start separating food scraps from your trash early, you have so many options. If you would like to start separating food scraps for compost, see this backyard composting guide to get you started. If you would rather bring your food scraps to our Transfer Station for no charge, or bring them to your hauler at most local drop-offs in Addison County– you can download this info sheet for starters. Essentially, you just need a bucket to collect scraps and most likely a smaller container to collect scraps right in your kitchen (you can use a coffee can, sugar container, whatever is easiest for you! Even a plastic bag in your freezer works too, and eliminates any chance of fruit flies/odors). ACSWMD does sell a Kitchen Collector for $5 and also gives each household one free 5-gallon bucket for food scrap collection. Using the “IN” and “KEEP OUT” lists from the sheet on the left, just collect all of your food scraps into your bucket and once it is full you can bring it to your local drop-off, or bring it to the District Transfer Station in Middlebury.

What drop-offs are collecting food scraps in Addison County?

Thanks to our local haulers, fourteen of our towns/ drop-offs are offering food scrap collection: Addison, Bridport, Bristol, Cornwall, Leicester, Lincoln, Middlebury (Desabrais), New Haven, Ripton, Shoreham, Starksboro, Vergennes (Addison, Ferrisburgh, Panton and Waltham residents may also use this facility), Weybridge, and Whiting.

What haulers in our area are collecting food scraps?

Only a few haulers have begun to offer curbside collection: Draft Trash, and Moose Rubbish & Recycling.  The haulers who are collecting at local drop-offs are: R&L, Moose Rubbish & Recycling, C&J Hauling, Van Denton, Desabrais Trash, Brenda Kimball, Webb and Sons and BK Services (will begin in September). Call them to inquire about pricing for food scrap collection.

Can I use bags in my food scrap buckets?

Yes, you may either use paper bags or newspaper to line your food scrap bucket, or if you would like to purchase certified compostable bags (make sure it has the BPI compostable symbol on the left), you can use those too. Note, the compostable bags are not suitable for backyard composting, but small amounts of newspaper and paper bags will work fine.

Will this cost me?

If you would like to bring food scraps to the drop-offs the haulers can charge for that additional service they are offering. However, if you wanted to bring your scraps to the District Transfer Station in Middlebury, you can do so at no charge Monday – Friday 7 am – 3 pm or Saturday 8 am – 1pm. Additionally, if you decided to compost at home, you would likely save money because most of the weight in your trash is food. Without food in your trash, you could cut down on your trips to the drop-off!

Are there trash police?!

No one will be sorting through your trash to see if you have scraps in there. The point of the Universal Recycling Law is to help set up a statewide system to keep certain things from the landfill because of their harmful or noxious properties when they are in the landfill under anaerobic conditions. Food scraps, clean food and leaf and yard waste are all of those things.  They both take up space and release methane gas when they are in a landfill, which is 21 times more harmful to the environment than CO2. The spirit of the law is to set up systems that would make it easier for folks to separate their scraps and other banned items from the landfill, and hope that folks do the right thing.

What if I want to compost?

That’s the best option out there! It keeps the scraps (and their nutrients) local, you can make nutrient-rich compost in your own backyard, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions (from trucking those scraps up to the landfill, and then from the scraps breaking down in an anaerobic environment in the landfill itself) AND it will help you save money by reducing trash costs. If you would like to learn more about Backyard Composting – download this guide and call the District if you would like to sign up for a free beginner backyard composting workshop. You can also sign up for an online course to become a Vermont Master Composter offered each fall. For more information – click here.



What about meat? Bones? Oil? Pet waste?

If you are bringing your scraps to the drop-off you are allowed to put in meat, bones, fish, animal fats, etc.  If you have a lot of used cooking oil, you can bring that to the Transfer Station in Middlebury and it will be turned into biodiesel. You CANNOT put pet waste into the food scrap bucket.

If you decide to compost at home it is best to leave meat scraps and heavy dairy products out of your compost because it can attract vectors like raccoons, bears, etc. Home compost piles usually are not hot enough to properly break down meat scraps anyway, meaning that any potential pathogens on meat would not die and could harm your garden if you used the compost. For all of these reasons, it’s best to keep them out of your food scrap pile. Again, NO pet waste in your backyard pile either.

If you compost at home, you are allowed to put your meat and bone scraps into the trash for landfill. However, you can also compost your produce scraps at home, and bring your meat scraps to the drop offs or Transfer Station!

If you are looking to do something with your pet waste, and would rather handle your meat scraps right at home, one option is to purchase a Green Cone Solar Digestor which we sell at the Transfer Station for $125, or $63 if you have a voucher from our seasonal backyard composting workshops. Green Cones handle food scraps including meat, fish, bones and dairy, and can also handle pet waste. Click the link above to learn more!

What about bears? Rats? Raccoons?

Remember, whether the food scraps are in your trash or in a separate container, it’s all the same material and if you have not had issues with vectors up to this point, you will likely be fine. However, if vectors get into your trash and you are concerned, we suggest keeping your food scrap bucket inside (i.e. your garage or a shed) until you are ready to bring them to the drop-off. If you are composting, make sure you layer your food scraps with a thick layer of browns (such as dry leaves or wood shavings) every time you bring food scraps out to your pile to dampen the smell. Also, turn it more. Once the pile becomes more homogenous, animals will not bother with it. Finally, minimize other bear attractants in your yard such as smelly garbage cans or dirty recycling, dirty BBQ grills, bird feeders, pet food, and citronella candles. Any of these things can attract a bear to your yard, who then decides to see what else he/she can find.

It should be noted that no container is fully bear-proof. Reducing smells is key. And if for whatever reason none of the above suggestions work to keep the bear out of your yard and compost pile, there are products such as “predator pee” – mountain lion urine for instance – that you can purchase and sprinkle around your yard/pile. We’ve had folks from the NEK say this does a great job of keeping bears and other vectors away from your pile.