Universal Recycling of Solid Waste: What it means for VT’s future

Last June Governor Shumlin signed H.485, an Act Relating to Establishing Universal Recycling of Solid Waste. This law is designed to conserve resources and energy, maximize waste reduction and minimize our impact on the environment.

Central to the new law is a plan with a timeline over several years to optimize the effect of universal recycling and to prepare the state and solid waste facilities to handle what is ahead.

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By November 1, 2013, a thorough study on all aspects of solid waste management will be complete.  This report will include a breakdown of what makes up our waste and an analysis of cost, local governance, infrastructure, natural resources and environmental impact. The legislature will use the study as a basis for their next recommendations, probably resulting in new proposed laws in the 2014 session.

Solid waste haulers will be required to provide collection of curbside recyclables (bottles, cans, plastics, paper, etc.) by July 1, 2015, leaf and yard waste by July 1, 2016, and food waste beginning July 1, 2017.  These types of solid waste will be banned from landfills in conjunction with the mandates for collection.  Public spaces will be required to have recycling bins in addition to trash cans.

Food scraps and waste will be handled more consciously. The largest generators of food waste – manufacturers, industrial and commercial institutions – must comply with regulations starting in 2014.  Excess food will be donated to food shelves if fit for human consumption, otherwise it will be fed to animals, composted, or processed to source energy.  Household composting will be in full effect by 2020.

Most of our waste consists of valuable resources that can be reused or repurposed. The Universal Recycling law will streamline our waste reduction and provide an abundance of resources for farming, energy and materials production and more.  This legislation lays out the foundation for sustainable waste and resource management.

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