New trash and recycling laws begin July 1

Observer staff report

July 1 arrives, it brings with it a variety of changes in solid waste disposal rules for Chittenden County and the state. The changes come from Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling and Composting Law. Chittenden South Solid Waste District also recently updated its Solid Waste Management Ordinance.
The legislature unanimously passed Act 148 in 2012 to keep as much as possible out of the landfill. Landfill bans will be phased in through the year 2020.
Beginning July 1, there is a statewide ban on mandatory recyclables. Certain recyclable materials and items have been banned from the landfill in Chittenden County since 1993. Now, Act 148 stretches most of that ban across the entire state of Vermont. Mandatory recyclables include containers like glass or plastic jars or bottles, aluminum cans, mixed paper and more.
Act 148 also requires that all trash containers in publicly owned spaces—such as town and city parks and public schools—be paired with a recycling bin by July 1.
CSWD is enacting its untreated wood ban a year earlier than the Act 148 statewide mandate because local companies found reliable markets for reusing the material and are providing ways to collect and deliver it. In Chittenden County, any wood that has not been treated with any chemical, stain, preservative, paint, oil or adhesive will be banned from landfill disposal. This includes natural wood, such as branches and logs, as well as lumber, pallets, etc.
Starting July 1, haulers, transfer stations and drop-off centers must offer unit-based pricing. Also known as Pay-As-You-Throw, unit-based pricing—based on weight or volume—is an effective way to encourage recycling, according to CSWD. With unit-based pricing, the less you send to the landfill, the less you pay, unlike flat-rate pricing structures that offer no benefit for those who make the effort to keep as much as possible out of the landfill.
Next month, curbside trash haulers must also offer recycling pickup services. This is already the case in Chittenden County, but is now the law for the entire state.
Trash facilities must also accept leaf and yard debris and make sure that it does not end up in the landfill, under Act 148 rules. By 2016, haulers will have to start offering leaf and yard debris pickup.
In addition, Act 148 mandates that generators of 52 or more tons of food scraps per year (that’s at least a ton a week) must find a way to keep those scraps out of trash headed for the landfill. Options include reducing the amount of food scraps wasted, donating quality food to a food bank, sending scraps to a farm for livestock, composting and other inventive ways of keeping that valuable material out of the landfill.
In 2017, haulers offering curbside trash pickup must also offer collection of food scraps. All transfer/drop-off stations will also have to accept food scraps.
By 2020, food scraps from all businesses and residents will be banned from the landfill.
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