Vermont front runner in recycling efforts, clean energy rankings

Schools lead on recycling, composting

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets laud Vermont’s K-12 schools for being at the forefront of implementing the state’s universal recycling law.

“In their classrooms and cafeterias, Vermont’s youth are learning important hands-on lessons about how simple and routine it can be to reduce waste, rescue food, recycle materials and compost,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Emily Boedecker. “Schools are jumpstarting the market and demanding the pick-up, recycling and composting services we need to revamp our waste management system.”

Some schools compost on-site; some schools work with a local farm to manage food scraps; and some schools have hauler pickup of food scraps along with their recyclables and other waste. The wide variety of implemented solutions demonstrates the options and flexibility available to organizations and residents seeking to sustainably manage recyclables and organic waste, Boedecker said.

Schools across the state are also working to decrease wasted food in their cafeterias and increase food donation rates.

“Our schools are working hard to make sure students ‘clean their plates’ first, but with all cafeterias there is going to be food scraps,” said Agency of Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “We know teachers, students and food service workers are doing their best to manage waste.”

Though most schools are not required to separate food scraps until 2020, schools have been ahead of the curve, Tebbetts said.

Examples of innovative waste management programs in Vermont schools and school waste reduction guides are available on the Department of Environmental Conservation Universal Recycling School Resource webpage (

Also visit the Agency of Agriculture Farm-to-School resources page (

State ranked second in clean energy momentum

Vermont’s move toward clean energy was ranked second among all states in the nation in a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Renewable Energy Vermont group reported last week. The report, entitled “Clean Energy Momentum: Ranking State Progress” listed California as the most progressive clean energy state.

States were scored on 12 metrics in three areas: technical progress, direct visible effects on daily lives and policies to build momentum for the future. Vermont earned top-five scores in energy savings, electric vehicle adoption and energy efficiency policy. It was ranked in the top 10 in 10 of the 12 metrics, the most of any state.

Vermont was the leader in clean energy jobs per capita.

“Vermont’s early and continued leadership on local clean energy, efficiency, solar and wind has helped fuel our economy,” said Olivia Campbell Andersen, Renewable Energy Vermont executive director. “Frugality, sunshine and catching the breeze are staples of the Vermont way of life and that is reflected in our energy choices. Given federal inaction, towns and states must lead the way on climate and clean energy solutions, and that’s exactly what innovative Vermonters plan to keep doing.”

The full report and more information is available at

Renewable Energy Vermont is a consortium of businesses, nonprofits, utilities and individuals committed to reducing reliance on fossil fuels by increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency in Vermont.