October 25, 2014

LIVING GREEN: Mapping out the best ways to compost

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Vermont is quickly moving towards mandated recycling and composting. As part of this effort the Agency of Natural Resources has launched an interactive online map that will help residents, businesses and institutions find and connect with collection services. (Photo courtesy of Chittenden Solid Waste District)

Vermont is quickly moving towards mandated recycling and composting. As part of this effort the Agency of Natural Resources has launched an interactive online map that will help residents, businesses and institutions find and connect with collection services. (Photo courtesy of Chittenden Solid Waste District)

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
With the statewide move to mandated recycling and composting approaching, the Agency of Natural Resources has developed a new tool to help businesses and households prepare.
ANR last week launched its interactive online Universal Recycling Materials Management Map. The map was created to help residents, businesses and institutions connect with collection services. It also helps food rescue agencies, haulers and composters connect with sources of quality food and food scraps, such as restaurants, supermarkets, schools and hospitals.
The map also displays the local governments, known as the Solid Waste Management Entities, who can provide composting and recycling assistance to businesses and institutions at the local level.
Vermont’s Universal Recycling law bans all food scraps from landfills by July 1, 2020. Larger generators of food scraps need to begin diverting these materials sooner if a certified facility is located within 20 miles.
Recyclables (such as metal, glass, plastics #1 & #2, and paper/cardboard) are also banned from the landfill beginning July 1, 2015.
Josh Kelly, with the Department of Environmental Conservation solid waste division, said recycling is the first step for the few out there who haven’t already caught on.
“First and foremost, get active with recycling if you haven’t already,” he said. “There’s so many options now and so much convenience in the recycling world, but we have made it more convenient.”
Beginning this summer, transfer stations and drop-off sites must accept recycling without an extra fee.
While 2020 isn’t extremely close, Kelly recommends that residents start thinking about how they will handle their food scraps and yard debris.
“I think home composting is a great option and the cheapest option by far,” he said.
If residents are not interested in home composting, transfer stations that accept compost are identified on the map. By 2017, all transfer stations must accept compost.
In Williston, Chittenden Solid Waste District on Redmond Road accepts recycling, food scraps, leaves and yard debris. Down the street, its Green Mountain Compost facility accepts food scraps and leaf and yard debris.
“Removing food scraps and other organic material from the waste stream is a high priority for Vermont,” said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz. “These materials account for nearly 30 percent of what we throw out, wasting limited landfill space; and as the waste breaks down it produces greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.”
Markowitz added that, “in order to make it easier for Vermont businesses and institutions to identify the alternatives that are available to them, the Agency of Natural Resources  is now providing an easy-to-use tool to help connect food producing businesses and institutions with food rescue organizations, solid waste haulers and facility managers.”
More features will be added in the future, such as e-recycling facilities.
The Agency of Natural resources also developed a food recovery hierarchy with the passage of the Universal Recycling law.
The top and most important step is reducing the amount of food residuals being generated at the source. That means being more careful with the amount of food you purchase and cook, minimizing wasted food.
The second step is to direct extra food of high quality to feed people by donating to food shelves and other similar strategies. Third, use lower quality food residuals for agricultural uses, such as food for animals. Fourth, direct food residuals for compost, anaerobic digestion and land application. Finally, food can be processed for energy recovery.
To access the map, visit http://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/wastediv/solid/URmap_launch.html

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