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Act 148: Vermont’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 materials historically found in Vermonters' trash bins:

The above "waste" materials are now being recognized as recoverable resources that should not take up limited space in the only operating landfill in Vermont. Furthermore, more than half of what Vermonters have historically thrown away can actually be diverted from the landfill. 

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 and food scraps by 2020, 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. 

Need help disposing of banned items? View the State of Vermont's disposal guide for banned materials.

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, the District 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 in July 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 them to animals (with restrictions). The District Transfer Station and almost all town drop-off locations already offer food scrap collection to those who wish to begin early. Have more questions? Check out our food scrap collection Frequently Asked Questions.

What does this mean for businesses in Addison County?

Businesses in our District have already adopted many of the elements of Act 148. Likely the largest change for businesses is the requirement to separate food scraps. As of July 1, 2017, all businesses that produce more than 1/3 ton of food scraps each week (or 18 tons/year) are required to divert their food scraps from the landfill, using the Food Recovery Hierarchy above as a guide for the best use. Many businesses in our District have already begun this process! View the growing list of businesses who are working hard to divert their food waste. Learn how your school or business can divert food scraps from the landfill.

For more resources on Act 148:

Visit the Vermont Agency of Natural Resource's website for information about Act 148, including a summary of the law, fact sheets, and many additional resources.

View a list of downloadable Universal Recycling Symbols, posters and resources.

Food recovery hierarchy